beating heartDepression commonly follows coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery and is associated with poorer outcomes.

Researchers from Pennsylvania and New York report that telephone calls as part of comprehensive care improves patients’ quality of life.

CABG (coronary artery bypass graft) creates new routes around narrowed and blocked arteries, allowing sufficient blood flow to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle.

First, the details.

  • 302 patients following CABG surgery who were depressed were assigned to receive the calls or not for 8 months.
  • A care manager telephoned patients every other week to review their care plan, monitor antidepressant therapy, administer a questionnaire to assess treatment response, encourage follow-up with the physician and mental health specialist, and inform the patients of new treatment recommendations based on a weekly review.
  • Another 151 randomly sampled post-CABG patients without depression were followed.

And, the results.

  • Patients who received the phone calls reported significantly greater improvements in…
    • Mental health-related quality of life
    • Physical functioning
    • Mood symptoms
  • And those getting phone calls were more likely to report at least a 50% decline in the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression score than usual care patients.
  • Men with depression were particularly likely to benefit from the phone calls.
  • However, the quality of life and physical functioning of those getting the phone calls was less than the nondepressed comparison group.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “Compared with usual care, telephone-delivered collaborative care for post-CABG depression can improve health-related quality of life, physical functioning, and mood symptoms at 8-month follow-up.”

Men benefited more from the phone calls. However, compared with depressed men, women with depression reported higher rates of anxiety and prior depression treatment. So, maybe the 2 groups were dissimilar at the start.

11/17/09 20:47 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.