The analysis has been undertaken by the Massachusetts General Hospital department of psychiatry. For the study, medics examined the records of 38,397 patients treated with antidepressants. What was found was that a certain class of antidepressants called serotonin reuptake inhibitors
(SSRIs), along with methadone and the tricyclic antidepressant amitriptyline, posed a risk to those taking them in terms of heart disease. The risk level was for around 20% of those examined in the study.
SRIs are used predominantly as antidepressants as well as for the treatment of other psychological conditions such as anxiety disorders and eating disorders.
The concern, according to Pharma Times
, is that certain antidepressants appear to disrupt the electrical impulses controlling the heart, in that the electrical impulses take longer to charge up between beats (medically, this is known as the QT interval). This can lead to a heart condition called ventricular arrhythmia.
The study also showed some correlation between higher doses of antidepressants and the impact upon the heart rhythms (what is called a dose-dependent trend).
The findings support recent warnings from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which looked at a similar issue
The new findings have been published
in the British Medical Journal in a study called “QT interval and antidepressant use: a cross sectional study of electronic health records”.