The following question refers to Section 4.4 of the 2021 ESC CV Prevention Guidelines. The question is asked by Dr. Maryam Barkhordarian, answered first by medicine resident Dr. Ahmed Ghoneem, and then by expert faculty Dr. Noreen Nazir.
Dr. Nazir is Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she is the director of cardiac MRI and the preventive cardiology program.
The CardioNerds Decipher The Guidelines Series for the 2021 ESC CV Prevention Guidelines represents a collaboration with the ACC Prevention of CVD Section, the National Lipid Association, and Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association.
Ms. J is a 57-year-old woman with a past medical history of myocardial infarction resulting in ischemic cardiomyopathy, heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, and major depressive disorder who presents today for follow-up. She reports feeling extremely overwhelmed lately due to multiple life stressors. She is on appropriate cardiovascular GDMT agents and is not prescribed any medications for her mood disorder.
True or false: in addition to psychotherapy for stress management, it is appropriate to consider Ms. J for anti-depressant SSRI pharmacotherapy at this time to improve cardiovascular outcomes.
The correct answer is FALSE.
An ESC class 3 recommendation states that SSRIs, SNRIs, and tricyclic antidepressants are not recommended in patients with heart failure and major depression; this is based on data suggesting potential lack of SSRI efficacy for reducing depression or cardiovascular events, as well as safety data indicating an association between SSRI use and increased risk of CV events and all-cause as well as cardiovascular mortality among HF patients. Mental health disorders are associated with worse outcomes in patients with ASCVD and appropriate treatment effectively reduces stress symptoms and improves quality of life. Nonpharmacologic modalities of treatment (exercise therapy, psychotherapy, collaborative care) should be considered before pharmacotherapy to improve cardiovascular outcomes in patients with heart failure.
Of note, the ESC suggests SSRI treatment be considered for patients with coronary heart disease (without HF) and moderate-to-severe major depression based on data that SSRI treatment is associated with lower rates of CHD readmission (RR 0.63), all-cause mortality (RR 0.56), and the composite endpoint of all-cause mortality/MI/PCI (HR 0.69) vs. no treatment. This is a class 2a recommendation.
ESC also gives a class 2a recommendation to consider referral to psychotherapeutic stress management for individuals with stress and ASCVD to improve CV outcomes and reduce stress symptoms.
The ACC/AHA guidelines do not provide focused recommendations regarding mental health considerations in patients with elevated cardiovascular risk.
It is important to consider mental health treatment in patients with ASCVD as mental disorders are associated with increased CVD risk and poor patient prognosis, and data support that mental health interventions can improve overall and CVD outcomes, as well as improve quality of life.