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Annual Meeting Highlights
Sessions to Focus on Connection Between Heart Disease, Depression
Psychiatric News
Volume 44 Number 4 page 2-39

The heart-depression connection will be explored Thursday, May 21, at APA's 2009 annual meeting via a lecture and a symposium.FIG1

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Dean Ornish, M.D., struggled with depression early in his life. He is a proponent of stress-reducing techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation. 

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 (CVD).

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 persons."

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 well."

Information about Ornish and the Preventive Medicine Research Institute is posted at<www.pmri.org/about.html>.

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THURSDAY, MAY 21

Lecture: Heart Disease

Dean Ornish, M.D.

11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Room 308, Esplanade Level, Moscone Center
  

Symposium: Matters of the Heart

Chair: Carolyn Robinowitz, M.D.

2 p.m-5 p.m.

Room 308, Esplanade Level, Moscone Center ▪

Anchor for JumpAnchor for Jump

Dean Ornish, M.D., struggled with depression early in his life. He is a proponent of stress-reducing techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation. 

Credit: Erik Butler

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