Antidepressants Among Men Linked to Heart Problems: Study

According to the findings of a recent study, men may face an increased risk of heart problems as a result of potential side effects of antidepressants

Researchers from Emory University presented their findings earlier this month at the American College of Cardiology annual scientific session in New Orleans, indicating that antidepressants may be linked to a risk of atherosclerosis in men, which could lead to heart attack and stroke.

The researchers, funded by the National Institutes of Health, looked at 513 male twins, of which 16% were taking antidepressants. They found that those on antidepressants had about a 5% increase in the thickness of the carotid artery, which is located in the neck and carries blood to the brain.

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About 60% of the men taking antidepressants were on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

The researchers cautioned that their findings are preliminary and there has been no cause-and-effect relationship established between antidepressants and the thickening arteries. The researchers were also struggling to find a reason that antidepressants of any kind would cause the arteries to thicken.

This study comes several months after European researchers reported that older antidepressants may carry a higher risk of heart disease than newer drugs. The study, published in the European Heart Journal late last year found that patients taking tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), like Elavil, Tofranil and Sinequan, had a 35% increased risk of heart disease. There was no link found between SSRIs and heart disease, according to that study found.

SSRI antidepressants are a relatively new class of medications, which help reduce symptoms of depression by preventing certain nerve cells in the brain from re-absorbing the chemical serotonin. These drugs are commonly used by millions of Americans with depression.

Although the drugs have been found to cause fewer side effects than older anti-depressants, research has shown that users of the drugs could also face an increased risk of suicides, and use during pregnancy has been linked to a risk of birth defects from SSRI antidepressants.


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