Harvard Heart Letter

Heart Beat: Antidepressant little help in heart failure

Depression is a common traveler with heart failure. Symptoms of heart failure, like fatigue and breathlessness, contribute to depression. Activation of stress hormones by a failing heart play a part, as does living with a chronic condition. Back in 2002, results of a trial called SADHART showed that the antidepressant sertraline (Zoloft) was a safe and effective treatment for major depression after a heart attack. Hoping to extend that work, researchers tested a 12-week course of sertraline in 469 men and women with heart failure. The drug was safe — meaning it didn't worsen heart failure or cause cardiovascular problems — but it didn't ease depression any better than placebo (Journal of the American College of Cardiology, August 24, 2010).

If you have heart failure and depression, palliative care specialist Dr. Sarah J. Goodlin offers these suggestions in an editorial accompanying the report:

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »