Evidence Indicates Depression May Predict Heart Disease
investigators have been looking at psychological factors that might
increase the risk of heart disease, according to Reiner Rugulies,
Ph.D., of the University of California, San Francisco. The results,
including numerous findings on "so-called type A behavior" and risk of
heart disease, have been largely inconsistent, he said.
Rugulies said research on depression and heart disease provides a far
more consistent picture, indicating that "depression is associated with
the development of [heart disease] in initially healthy people."
he examined 11 large-scale studies on depression and future heart
disease published between 1993 and 2000. In each study, the
investigators categorized each participantas depressed or not
depressed, then followed them for anywhere between three and 37 years
to document heart attacks and deaths from heart disease. The
researchers assessed and tracked more than 36,000 men and women, most
of whom were Americans, according to the study.
was associated with a significant increased risk of [heart disease] in
seven of the 11 studies, despite the subjects’ initial good
health," Rugulies said.
individuals were between one and four times more likely than their
non-depressed counterparts to develop heart disease; the remaining four
studies also support a depression-heart disease link, although the
evidence they provide is weaker, according to Rugulies.
striking association appeared in those studies in which subjects were
required to suffer from clinical depression, not merely depressed mood,
in order to be counted as "depressed," Rugulies reported. On the
average, subjects with clinical depression were almost twice as likely
as individuals with depressed mood and almost three times as likely as
non-depressed individuals to develop heart disease, he added.
Exactly why depression precedes heart disease isn’t clear, Rugulies noted.
may be gleaned from research that has...shown that depressed subjects
have a higher risk of hypertension and are more likely to show poor
health behaviors, such as smoking and lack of leisure-time physical
activity," he said. "The ability to find the answer will depend on
research that integrates social, psychological and biomedical aspects
in a broader framework."
Copyright 2002 Health Resources Publishing