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Integrated Depression Care Can Benefit Heart Failure Patients

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Integrated Depression Care Can Benefit Heart Failure Patients


Heart failure is one of the most common cardiovascular diseases among older adults in the United States. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, about half of the patients who suffered heart failure developed depression over time.

Many factors contribute to that, including hospital readmission and fear of impending mortality. In short, heart failure patients are likely to fall into depression and sadness.

But sadly, even while administering follow-up treatments to such patients, cardiologists do not check them for depression.

"Depression often goes unrecognized and untreated in heart failure patients," says Bruce Rollman, professor of medicine at Pittsburgh.

Heart failure and depression are pretty much unrelated, so who can blame the doctors?

However, new research shows that depression care administered over the phone can improve the quality of life in patients recovering from heart failure.


The research

Knowing how depression care was relevant for heart failure patients, Rollman wanted to see if it can be administered alongside routine heart failure care. So they trained the nurses responsible for administering heart failure care on how to deliver depression care simultaneously. The nurses then delivered this blended model of collaborative care over the phone.

According to co-author Amy Anderson, "Collaborative 'blended' care model provides extra layers of emotional and educational support for patients and their families." By spending time with patients discussing their cases, doctors and nurses get to learn a great deal about the patients' lives. This puts the caregivers in a position to better assist the patients in overcoming their emotional challenges and living a better life.

And as expected, the results were positive. During the 12-month telephone follow-up, heart failure patients who tested positive for depression reported better mental health than their control group (those receiving routine care for heart failure alone). They felt higher energy, less fatigue, improved mood, and better general well-being.


Bottom Line

The purpose of the research is not merely to determine the effect of this blended collaborative care on heart failure patients. The ultimate aim is that healthcare experts can use this innovative approach broadly to help improve lives beyond just managing heart problems.

Importantly, the research shows that medical doctors and nurses can be trained on delivering depression care quite easily, and they can do so over the phone. And since telemedicine is becoming more mainstream, this should pose much of a challenge.

In the near future, we'd likely see more advancement in this area of addressing depression in ill older adults using such integrated interventions.

Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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