Two of every five patients who experience acute coronary syndrome (ACS) will have depression—a very important psychosocial predictor of poor cardiovascular prognosis.
“A growing body of evidence suggests that mental health problems complicate physical health conditions and that this relationship worsens clinical outcomes, increases hospitalization, and adversely affects quality of life,” Joseph A. Ladapo, MD, PhD, of New York University in New York City.
He and colleagues predicted that treatment of depression after ACS would be cost effective and improve patient outcomes. They conducted a randomized, controlled study comparing enhanced depression care with usual care in patients with ACS and persistent depression 3 months after discharge. Ladapo and colleagues defined enhanced depression care as problem-solving psychotherapy, antidepressant use or both.
Their conclusion at the close of the 6-month, prospective trial involving 157 patients was that treatment for depression reduced total per-patient healthcare costs by more than 40% and was cost effective for almost all patients.
An assessment of quality of life showed improved health utility in the intervention group. Interviews 6 months after discharge showed that in the intervention group 51% were using antidepressants or anxiolytics and 75% had visited a mental health specialist at least once for a total cost of $1,083. In the control group 30% were using antidepressants or anxiolytics and 35% had seen a mental health professional, for an average of $554.
The extra costs for the intervention group were more than offset by the significant reduction in hospitalization for ACS and heart failure (5% vs. 16%), with a mean cost savings of $1,782 for the intervention group and unmeasured improvement in quality of life.
Total healthcare costs averaged $1,857 in the intervention group and $2,797 for the usual-care arm, resulting in an adjusted difference of $1,229, which did not achieve statistical significance (P=0.09). Because the intervention was cost saving, the investigators could not calculate a cost-effectiveness ratio.
The research was reported in Arch Intern Med 2012; DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2012.4448, and was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; the Health Resources and Services Administration; and the American Heart Association.
This article was originally published in Pathways Physician & Health Professional Bulletin - Issue 26. To download this issue in PDF format, or past issues, visit our newsletter archives online at www.pathwayshealth.org/publications.