Using selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors to treat heart attack patients suffering from depression could reduce the risk of suffering a subsequent heart attack or death, according to data published in the recent edition of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

The trial in question, known as Enrichd, included some 1,834 patients who were classed as depressed of “socially isolated” after suffering a heart attack and found that SSRI use was associated with 43% lower risk of death or recurrent non-fatal heart attack, and 43% lower risk of death from all causes.

“The results basically suggest that these medications are very useful for patients who have had heart attacks and are depressed,” said C. Barr Taylor, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine and the study’s lead author. He added that he would recommend that any post heart-attack patient with depression be evaluated for treatment.

Cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death, major morbidity and disability in the US, is often linked with depression. According to past studies, 20% of patients with coronary heart disease suffer from major depression and 20% from minor depression. Studies have also shown that depression among post-heart attack patients is associated with death and recurrent heart attacks.