Antidepressants and the Risk of Cardiovascular Events in Elderly Affected by Cardiovascular Disease: A Real-Life Investigation from Italy

Annalisa Biffi, Federico Rea, Lorenza Scotti, Ersilia Lucenteforte, Alfredo Vannacci, Niccolò Lombardi, Alessandro Chinellato, Graziano Onder, Cristiana Vitale, Silvia Cascini, Ylenia Ingrasciotta, Giuseppe Roberto, Alessandro Mugelli, Giovanni Corrao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose The purpose of this study was to assess the possible relation between use of antidepressant (AD) drugs, that is, tricyclic ADs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and atypical ADs (AAs), and the risk of hospitalization for cardiovascular (CV) events among older patients with previous CV diseases. Methods A nested case-control study was carried out among patients aged 65 years and older from 5 Italian health care territorial units who were discharged for CV disease during 2008 to 2010. The cohort was composed by 344,747 individuals, and of these, 97,739 (28%) experienced hospital admission for CV events (myocardial infarction, arrhythmia, stroke, heart failure) during follow-up (until 2014) and were included as cases. Up to 5 controls were randomly selected and matched to each. A conditional logistic regression was fitted to estimate the risk of CV events associated with ADs past or current use. A within-patient comparison was performed by the case-crossover design to account the effect of depression. Findings Current users of SSRIs and AAs were at increased risk of CV events with odds ratios of 1.25 (95% confidence interval, 1.21-1.29) and 1.31 (1.25-1.37), respectively. An increased risk of arrhythmia and stroke was associated with current use of SSRIs and AAs, whereas an increased risk of heart failure was detected with current use of any ADs. The results were confirmed by the case-crossover approach. Implications Evidence that AD use is associated with an increased risk of CV events in accordance with specific mechanisms of action among older people with CV disease was added by this study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-121
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2020


  • antidepressants
  • atypical antidepressants
  • cardiovascular disease
  • case-crossover study
  • health care utilization database
  • nested case-control study
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
  • tricyclic antidepressants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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