Recognizing Depression as a Risk Factor for Cardiovascular Disease in Older Patients

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Nearly one-third of NPs failed to recognize depression as a risk factor for CVD.

Nearly one-third of nurse practitioners (NPs) did not recognize depression as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to survey findings presented at the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association (GAPNA) Annual Hybrid Conference held September 30 to October 2, 2021.

“Effective depression treatment reduces disability, improves outcomes of comorbid health conditions, and improves quality of life,” said lead study author, Lorraine M Novosel, PhD, CRNP, AGPCNP-BC. However, “older adults have but a 50% chance of being diagnosed with depression and are less likely to receive help for depressive symptoms compared to younger adults.”

To analyze NPs knowledge on depression and CVD, study authors recruited a national sample (n=111) of AANP members and asked them to complete an anonymous review of 4 patient vignettes. Of the sample, 64% reported having 5 or more years working as an NP.

The researchers found that 34% of NPs failed to recognize major depressive disorder as a risk for CVD and 2 out of 5 NPs did not recognize CVD as a risk factor for subsequent depression.

“Secondary findings suggest an age bias in caring for older adults by practicing NPs and warrants further examination,” noted Dr Novosel. “This is particularly important given our rapidly growing aging society and the shortage of providers who specialize in older adult care.”

Primary care NPs are well-suited to integrate physical and mental health as comprehensive PCPs, the authors noted. The findings indicate a need for professional development among NPs and during NP graduate education geared toward the relationship between CVD risk and depression.

“We really need to continue and enhance our education on age-related risks for the best care for our older adult patients,” Dr Novosel concluded.

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Novosel L, Torgenson S. NP awareness of bi-directional depression-cardiovascular disease risk in older adults. Poster presented at: Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association (GAPNA) Annual Hybrid Conference; September 30 October 2, 2021; San Diego, CA: P29

This article originally appeared on Clinical Advisor