Cardiac side-effects of two selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in middle- aged and elderly depressed patients

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Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the ‘new’ drugs of first choice for the treatment of depression in the older patient. Systematic studies on the effects of SSRIs on cardiac function are scarce, despite the high prevalence of cardiac disorders in the older depressed patient. This is a study which systematically assesed cardiac function by echo-cardiography in middle-aged and elderly depressed patients treated with SSRI. In a double-blind randomized trial, 20 patients were assigned to receive fluvoxamine 20 mg/day or fluoxetine 100mg/day for 6 weeks. Cardiac function was assessed by left ventricle ejection fraction, aortic flow integral and early or passive/late or active mitral inflow, and electrocardiography. Neither SSRI significantly affected cardiac function. Compared with patients without a history of myocardial infarction and/or hypertension, patients with such a history showed a significant improvement in left ventricular ejection fraction. Despite our small study sample, these data indicate that both fluoxetine and fluvoxamine do not affect cardiac function adversely.

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