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Screening, referral and treatment for depression in patients with coronary heart disease

In 2003, an Expert Working Group of the National Heart Foundation of Australia (NHFA) issued a position statement on the relationship between “stress” and heart disease. They concluded that depression was an important independent risk factor for first and recurrent coronary heart disease (CHD) events.1 Here, we provide an update on evidence obtained since 2003 regarding depression in patients with CHD, and include guidance for health professionals on screening and treatment for depression in these patients. Our statement refers to depression in general (mild, moderate and severe), as all grades of depression have an impact on CHD prognosis. The process for developing this consensus statement is described in Box 1. Treatment decisions should take into account the individual clinical circumstances of each patient.


The prevalence of depression is high in patients with CHD. Rates of major depressive disorder of around 15% have been reported in patients after myocardial infarction (MI) or coronary artery bypass grafts.3,