Depression in atrial fibrillation in the general population

  • BACKGROUND: Initial evidence suggests that depressive symptoms are more frequent in patients with atrial fibrillation. Data from the general population are limited.

    METHODS AND RESULTS: In 10,000 individuals (mean age 56±11 years, 49.4% women) of the population-based Gutenberg Health Study we assessed depression by the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) and a history of depression in relation to manifest atrial fibrillation (n = 309 cases). The median (25th/75th percentile) PHQ-9 score of depressive symptoms was 4 (2/6) in atrial fibrillation individuals versus 3 (2/6) individuals without atrial fibrillation, P(X2-Test) = 0.32. Multivariable regression analyses of the severity of depressive symptoms in relation to atrial fibrillation in cardiovascular risk factor adjusted models revealed a relation of PHQ-9 values and atrial fibrillation (odds ratio (OR) 1.04, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.01-1.08; P = 0.023). The association was stronger for the somatic symptom dimension of depression (OR 1.08, 95% CI 1.02-1.15; P = 0.0085) than for cognitive symptoms (OR 1.05, 95% CI 0.98-1.11; P = 0.15). Results did not change markedly after additional adjustment for heart failure, partnership status or the inflammatory biomarker C-reactive protein. Both, self-reported physical health status, very good/good versus fair/bad, (OR 0.54, 95% CI 0.41-0.70; P<0.001) and mental health status (OR 0.61 (0.46-0.82); P = 0.0012) were associated with atrial fibrillation in multivariable-adjusted models.

    CONCLUSIONS: In a population-based sample we observed a higher burden of depressive symptoms driven by somatic symptom dimensions in individuals with atrial fibrillation. Depression was associated with a worse perception of physical or mental health status. Whether screening and treatment of depressive symptoms modulates disease progression and outcome needs to be shown.

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