Saturday, April 2, 2011

Antidepressants linked to thicker arteries, suggesting heart disease risk

Antidepressant use is linked to thicker
arteries that could lead to heart disease.

New findings suggest antidepressant use might increase the chances of heart disease and stroke.

In a study of twins, scientists found taking SSRI's that inhibit the re-uptake of the hormone serotonin, as well as other types of antidepressants, seemed to lead to thickening in the walls of the carotid arteries, known as the intima. The findings suggest increased heart disease and stroke risk associated with the medications.

Scientists will present their findings April 5 at the American College of Cardiology meeting in New Orleans. In the study, 59 sets of twins, one using antidepressants and the other none,  were compared using carotid artery ultrasound. 

The researchers noted the arteries were "four years older" in the participants taking antidepressants. The findings also took into account other lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet and lifestyle contributors for vascular disease.

Amit Shah, MD, lead author and a cardiology fellow at Emory University School of Medicine says, "In our study, users of antidepressants see an average 40 micron increase in IMT, so their carotid arteries are in effect four years older."

The researchers aren't certain why the carotid arteries were thicker in the group taking antidepressants and say the findings should be interpreted with caution. They do not recommend people stop taking their antidepressants. You can read more details of the findings at