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Study: Depression May Raise Heart Attack Risk

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Wednesday, November 26, 2008 1:46 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Protecting Your Family, Heart Attack, Depression, Physical Activity, Exercise, Cardiac Events, Stroke, Heart Failure


IMAGE SOURCE: © Wikimedia Commons/ diagram of a heart attack/ author: U.S. Govt.

A newly released study suggests people that have heart disease and who are depressed often have a higher risk of future heart attack or stroke because depression keeps them from exercising and eating healthy foods.

The study appears in the November 26 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Another recent report found depression far more common in heart patients than previously thought and suggested routine screening in a medical setting.

More than 80 million Americans suffer from heart disease and it’s one of the leading causes of death.

Earlier studies have shown the two disorders often co-exist but there is little evidence to explain why. The new research, by scientists at the VA Medical Center, San Francisco, looked at 1,017 people with heart disease and followed them for nearly five years.

Participants were asked to complete a survey to help researchers measure symptoms of depression and researchers kept track of all cardiovascular events including heart attack, stroke, transient ischemic attack (“mini-stroke”), heart failure, or death.

Researchers concluded that heart disease patients with depression had a 31 percent greater risk of cardiovascular events. But, when researchers adjusted for the patients’ health behaviors, such as physical inactivity, there was no longer a distinct association between depression and heart disease. Physical inactivity was associated with a 44 percent greater rate of cardiovascular events.

Researchers note, they were unable to determine whether depression led to inactivity or if inactivity led to depression. The study concluded that heart disease patients could be counseled to exercise more and adopt a healthier lifestyle by stopping smoking and adhering to a heart-healthy diet.

“Exercise can improve both cardiovascular risk and depressive symptoms,” wrote researchers.

A recent study found, during the last nearly three decades, the number of people over the age of 65 who are hospitalized with heart failure more than doubled, representing a mounting burden on the health care system. #

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