Treating depression may reduce heart disease risk



  • People who have heart disease are more likely to suffer from depression


Heart disease and depression are both serious and prevalent conditions; mounting evidence infers that they are connected.

According to a new study aimed at finding correlation between depression and heart disease, depression has shown to increase the likelihood of developing heart disease later in life. Treating depression early might help reduce the chances of developing cardiac problems.

An estimated 6.7% of American adults suffered one or more major depressive episodes in 2014.

Additionally, around 1 in 4 deaths in the US is attributed to some form of heart disease.

Depression and heart disease are not only incredibly common but they also appear to be intrinsically linked.

After a heart attack or heart failure, some individuals who have never been troubled by depression can find themselves under its spell.

Conversely, people who have suffered from depression seem more likely to develop heart problems later in life.

A new study, carried out at the Intermountain Medical Centre Heart Institute in Salt Lake City, UT, investigates this relationship further.

Cardiovascular Epidemiologist PhD Researcher Heidi May wanted to examine whether treating depression reduces the chances of developing heart disease.

An additional question that May set out to answer was whether brief encounters with depression still have the ability to increase the risk of heart problems further down the line.

To investigate these questions, May delved into data from Intermountain Healthcare’s depression registry, containing information from more than 100,000 patients. This information source proved essential for the success of the research, as May explains: “There’s little publicly available data regarding this question.”

From the database, the team used data from the 7,550 patients who had filled in at least two depression questionnaires over the course of 2 years. The individuals were then divided into four groups: never depressed, no longer depressed, remained depressed and became depressed.

The patients were followed to observe whether they later developed cardiovascular problems including stroke, heart attack or heart failure.

The results showed that individuals who were no longer depressed had similar rates of heart disease as those who had never been depressed (4.6% and 4.8%, respectively). However, in the group of individuals who had become depressed during the study or remained depressed, the rates of cardiac disease were higher (6% and 6.4%, respectively).

In other words, treatment for depression resulted in a decreased level of cardiovascular risk that was roughly equivalent to someone who did not have depression.