MONDAY, March 9 -- Women who use antidepressants appear to be at heightened risk for sudden cardiac death, although the exact nature of the link remains unclear, researchers say.
The finding doesn't necessarily mean that antidepressant drugs are dangerous, the researchers said.
"We suspect that their use is a marker for people with worse depression," explained study lead author Dr. William Whang, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. "The elevated risk seems more specific for antidepressant use, but that use may well be a marker of more severe symptoms."
The link between depression and heart trouble is more likely physical than psychological, Whang added. "We found that women who had worse depressive symptoms had higher rates of risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes and smoking," he said.
Women with clinical depression were more than twice as likely to experience sudden cardiac death, the report said.
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