Heart disease patients who use statins to lower cholesterol could also be developing a resistance to depression, a US-based study has claimed.
A University of California team which studied 965 people being treated for heart disease found that those who were on a course of statins were less likely to be clinically depressed than those who were not.
Published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, the research identified 776 patients from the original test group who were not classed as depressed and followed them for a six-year period - 520 were using statins and 256 were not.
Lead researcher Dr Mary Whooley, professor of medicine at the university, reported that 18.5% of those using statins went on to become depressed compared to more than a quarter (28%) of those not taking the drugs, making statin users 38% less likely to become depressed.
As the research progressed the difference between the two groups became more pronounced, according to Dr Whooley, who is also a physician at the San Francisco VA Medical Centre. She said that patients taking statins became less likely to develop depression while those not taking the treatment experienced a greater chance of developing the condition.
“This would suggest that statins may have some kind of long-term protective effect against depression, perhaps by helping to prevent atherosclerosis in the brain, which can contribute to depressive symptoms,” she said.
Otte C, et al. Statin Use and Risk of Depression in Patients With Coronary Heart Disease: Longitudinal Data From the Heart and Soul Study. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 2012; Advance online subscription