Obstructive Sleep Apnea/Hypopnea Syndrome and Poor Response to Sertraline in Patients With Coronary Heart Disease

Annelieke M. Roest, Robert M. Carney*, Phyllis K. Stein, Kenneth E. Freedland, Hilary Meyer, Brian C. Steinmeyer, Peter de Jonge, Eugene H. Rubin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Objective: Evidence from several clinical trials in patients with coronary heart disease suggests that depression that does not respond to treatment is associated with a particularly high risk of adverse cardiac outcomes. The purpose of this study was to determine whether obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea syndrome (OSAHS) is associated with a poor response to antidepressant medication in patients with coronary heart disease.

Method: This was a secondary analysis of data from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of omega-3 fatty-acid augmentation of sertraline for depression in patients with coronary heart disease. Patients with documented coronary heart disease were recruited between May 2005 and December 2008 from cardiology practices in St Louis, Missouri, and through cardiac diagnostic laboratories affiliated with Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, Missouri, One hundred five patients (mean age=58 years) with coronary heart disease and current major depressive disorder (DSM-IV) were randomized to receive sertraline plus either omega-3 or placebo for 10 weeks. Cyclical heart-rate patterns associated with OSAHS were detected via ambulatory electrocardiography prior to treatment. Symptoms of depression were measured at baseline and follow-up with the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) and the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS-17). The primary endpoint was the BDI-II score at 10 weeks.

Results: Thirty of the 105 patients (29%) were classified as having probable moderate to severe OSAHS on the basis of nighttime heart-rate patterns. These OSAHS patients had significantly higher scores on both the BDI-II (t=-2.78, P=.01) and the HDRS-17 (t=-2.33, P=.02) at follow-up as compared to the reference group. Adjustment for baseline depression score, treatment arm (omega-3 vs placebo), body mass index, and inflammatory markers did not change the results. Patients with OSAHS reported higher item scores at follow-up on all depressive symptoms measured with the BDI-II compared to those without OSAHS.

Conclusions: Obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea syndrome is associated with a relatively poor response to sertraline treatment for depression. Future research should determine the contribution of OSAHS to the increased risk of adverse cardiac outcome associated with treatment-resistant depression. J Clin Psychiatry 2012;73(1):31-36 (C) Copyright 2011 Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-36
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2012



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