March 1, 2012

PEOPLE with heart disease who take cholesterol-lowering statins may have a lower risk of depression, according to a US study.

 It's still not clear whether the medications themselves have anything to do with the difference in mood among users, said Christian Otte, at the Charite University Medical Center in Berlin, who led the study.

 But the results do support the hypothesis that clogged-up blood vessels in the brain could play a role in depression.

 "It is possible that statins exert beneficial effects on depressive symptoms through protective effects on cere- brovascular processes," Otte said.

 In his study, Otte tracked 965 people in California for six years. All participants had suf- fered a heart attack or had other signs of heart disease.

 HOOD At the start of the study, 65pc of them were taking a statin.

 Based on questionnaires about their mental health, 17pc of statin users screened positive for depression at the beginning of the study compared to 24pc of people not on the drugs.

 Among those who had no mood problems initially, ISpc of statinusers and 28pc of nonusers became depressed at some point over the course of the study.

 Charles Blatt of the Lown Cardiovascular Center in Brookline, Massachusetts, who was not involved in the new study said it's possible statins may also influence depression indirectly.

 "We live in such a cholesterol-phobic nation, and if you have something that lowers your cholesterol, you feel better," he said.