The heart-depression connection will be explored Thursday, May 21, at APA's
2009 annual meeting via a lecture and a symposium.FIG1
Dean Ornish, M.D., struggled with depression early in his life. He is a
proponent of stress-reducing techniques, such as deep breathing and
Credit: Erik Butler
Best-selling author and internist Dean Ornish, M.D., will give a Frontiers
of Science lecture on his views about the psychophysiological relationship
between depression and cardiovascular disease
Also that day, Carolyn Robinowitz, M.D., immediate past president of APA,
will chair "Matters of the Heart: Depression and Cardiovascular
Disease," a symposium on the same subject.
Educating physicians and the public about the relationship between
depression and cardiovascular disease was a priority during Robinowitz's
presidential term—and it continues to be.
"CVD is still the number-one killer in the United States,"
Robinowitz told Psychiatric News. "Lifestyle changes are
important, but also we know that treatment for depression is effective both in
treating depression and in ameliorating the course of CVD in depressed
At the symposium she is chairing, Robinowitz will discuss research data
showing the relationship between depression and CVD—that depressed
patients appear to be at increased risk for developing heart disease and that
patients who are depressed and have heart disease do not do as well healthwise
as those who are not depressed.
"Obviously, anything we can do to prevent heart disease or to lessen
its impact and to promote recovery is important for patient care,"
Robinowitz noted. "Psychiatrists need to be alert to their patients'
general medical health, as well as potential risk factors (including
depression) for heart disease."
And, she emphasized, psychiatrists "need to work with their
colleagues in cardiology and primary care to ensure that patients receive care
for both illnesses: depression and cardiovascular disease."
Ornish, a renowned researcher and clinician, will give an internist's
perspective on the subject. He is founder and president of the nonprofit
Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, Calif., and a clinical
professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. He also
is the author of several bestselling books.
For more than three decades, Ornish has conducted research measuring how
major lifestyle changes can prevent or help to lower heart-disease risk.
Ornish's risk-lowering prescription for healthy hearts calls for rigorous
adherence to a very-low-fat diet heavy on natural, unrefined foods such as
fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains; a regimen of moderate exercise, such
as walking; and mind-body stress-reducing techniques, such as yoga-styled
stretching, deep breathing, and meditation.
Ornish has disclosed that he once suffered from depression. He learned that
managing stress and nurturing healthy relationships are critical in
maintaining a healthy mind and body.
"Medicine today focuses primarily on drugs and surgery, genes and
germs, microbes and molecules," he wrote on his Web site. "Yet
love and intimacy are at the root of what makes us sick and what makes us
Information about Ornish and the Preventive Medicine Research
Institute is posted at<www.pmri.org/about.html>.
Room 308, Esplanade Level, Moscone Center
Symposium: Matters of the Heart
Chair: Carolyn Robinowitz, M.D.
Room 308, Esplanade Level, Moscone Center ▪