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Depression increases risk of heart disease: study

American research links poor mental health with cardiovascular disease

Depression or a history of suicide attempts in people younger than 40 markedly increases their risk of dying from heart disease, an American study suggests.

Viola Vaccarino, chair of epidemiology at Emory University, Atlanta, said among women, depression appears to be more important than traditional risk factors such as smoking, hypertension and obesity

“We’re finding that depression is a remarkable risk factor for heart disease in young people.”This is the first study looking at depression as a risk factor for heart disease specifically in young people.

The researchers analysed data from 7,641 people between the ages of 17 and 39.

Women with depression or a history of attempted suicide had a three times higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and a 14 times higher risk of dying from a heart attack.

The corresponding figures for men were 2.4 times higher risk for cardiovascular disease and 3.5 times higher risk for ischemic heart disease.

This is the first study to examine a history of suicide attempts along with depression as a marker for future mortality from cardiovascular disease. They found a significant link to heart disease risk coming from depression and suicide attempts, even after correcting statistically for unhealthy behaviors.

"Direct physiological effects of depression may play a greater role than lifestyle factors in this young population," the authors said.

The results are published in the November 2011 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

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