Benzodiazepines could decrease mortality in congestive heart failure

Researchers have suggested that benzodiazepines should be the first course of treatment for those with cardiovascular disease and anxiety…


Researchers have found that the treatment of anxiety with benzodiazepines could improve survival in those with congestive heart failure. 

Depression is usually the main focus of clinicians with psychiatric comorbidities in cardiovascular patients. The relationship between anxiety and cardiovascular disease is well-known and has been documented for years.

Usually anxiety and depression are collectively looked at as risk factors and focuses for treatment. As such, antidepressant treatments that boast less cardiac toxicity and tout efficacy for depression and anxiety are the preferred approach.

From the two reviewed studies, the researchers mentioned how treatments independent of depression, but treat anxiety and the favourable effects of medications other than newer antidepressants for patients with cardiovascular disease should be looked at.

Benzodiazepines are versatile agents useful in various indications. Unlike antidepressant drugs, their use is conceived as a short-term and intermittent treatment program and free of the side effects of many antidepressant drugs. Several treatment studies highlight the usefulness of benzodiazepines in relieving symptomatology and improving the well-being of patients with CVDs such as unstable myocardial ischemia and hypertension. Furthermore, epidemiological studies suggest that the risks associated with using benzodiazepines in CVD patients are lower than those associated with the use of antidepressants.

Evidence suggests that, depending on the specific clinical situation, benzodiazepines should be used in the treatment of anxiety disorders, possibly as a first-line treatment, in patients with CVD. Low-to-moderate doses of adjunct benzodiazepines seem to be helpful in silent myocardial ischemia, angina, essential hypertension, and CHF, especially in patients with comorbid anxiety.

The results of the treatment studies using benzodiazepines for the treatment of cardiovascular disease were more encouraging than the results of the epidemiological studies. The researchers wrote how ‘all these findings together demonstrate and illustrate that…[benzodiazepines] could and should be used in the treatment of anxiety/anxiety disorders, possibly as a first-line treatment, in patients with CVD, depending on the specific clinical situation’.

This study was published in the Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychodynamics.

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