Prolonged depression ‘raises your risk of heart disease and stroke’

    2 February 2016

    Depression seems to be a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

    The data suggests that the more prolonged the depression, the more the risk increases.

    The researchers studied 7,300 older adults in three large French cities between 1999 and 2001. None of the participants had a history of heart disease, stroke, or dementia at the beginning of the study. They carried out interviews with the participants when the study began, and checked them again after two years, four years, and seven years.

    The participants were tested for their mental health status, blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and determined whether or not the participants had symptoms of depression.

    At the beginning of the study, almost 30 per cent of the women and 15 per cent of the men had high levels of depressive symptoms. The researchers discovered that equal numbers of people ‘recovered’ and developed new depression symptoms at each follow-up visit. During all study visits, fewer than 10 per cent of the participants were taking medication for depression.

    The researchers discovered that the participants who had high levels of depressive symptoms on one, two, three, or four occasions during the study were respectively 15 per cent, 32 per cent, 52 per cent, and 75 per cent at greater risk of experiencing heart disease or stroke over the 10-year study period.

    As a result, the researchers concluded that depression could be a risk factor for heart disease or stroke. They suggested that doctors pay close attention to symptoms of depression in older adults under care.

    Similarly, a study last year found that four years of depressive symptoms doubled the stroke risk for adults aged over 50. The research was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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