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Depression Drugs Linked With Artery Blockages

admin - April 6, 2011

A recent study of more than 500 twins who served in the Vietnam War revealed a link between antidepressants and artery blockage in middle-age men. The study, presented by Amit J. Shah, MD, at the American College of Cardiology meeting, found that those taking the depression medications had about 5% more fatty plaque-buildup (atherosclerosis) in the inner linings of the carotid arteries.

The medication appears to “age” the artery, increasing the buildup on the inside lining. As we age, the lining of the artery naturally gets thicker, but those on the antidepressants had an acceleration of this thickening process. In fact, the process seemed to age the arteries four years faster.

This is a tricky issue for doctors to work through. On one hand, any drug that speeds arterial blockage should only be prescribed with extreme caution. On the other hand, depression medication is a lifesaver for many, since depression itself is a risk factor for vascular diseases.

While it is impossible to determine cause and effect through this study or generalize the findings to women and other age groups, the results are likely impact treatment decisions, particularly if an individual considering anti-depressant medication has a history of cardiovascular disease or if the individual is taking antidepressants but not responding.

Life Line Screening performs simple, non-invasive carotid artery/stroke disease screenings across the country. Find a screening near you.


2 Comments so far
  1. Mary - April 22, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Your article does not name the actual drugs. Please be specific.

  2. Joelle Reizes - April 22, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    The research looked at SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) as well as other types. SSRIs are the most common type of antidepressant and include Prozc, Paxcil and Zoloft. The study looked at a little over 500 men, all twins, in “middle-age” who served in the Vietnam War. For a longer version of the story, visit here:

2 Responses to “Depression Drugs Linked With Artery Blockages”

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