Depression carries a much greater risk of sudden death from heart failure – that’s according to a new study from the European Society of Cardiology.

It suggests that patients with heart issues should be screened for depression and not just prescribed drugs and other treatments, according to a BBC report.

The study found that those who have depression were much more likely to die within a year’s time than those who were not depressed, giving researchers a new lead in terms of how to treat heart problems. Heart failure happens when the heart becomes weak and stiff and has difficulty pumping blood, leading to tiredness and shortness of breath.

Prof. John Cleland, who works at the Imperial College London and the University of Hull and is the lead author of the study, examined 96 patients who had experienced heart failure before and checked them for signs of depression. Those with moderate to severe depression were much more likely to die 300 days later. Scientists have suspected there was a link before but attributed it to people with depression have more serious heart conditions.

While there are many factors that affect heart failure, the findings may indicate that scientists have overlooked depression as a real risk factor, and that screenings for depression should become part of the treatment for those who suffer from heart conditions.

One possibility is that those who are depressed don’t seek help as quickly for heart problems, or perhaps they don’t take the pills they’re prescribed regularly.

More research will need to be conducted as this was a small study, but it does open up new possibilities for treating patients with heart conditions.

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