A new study has found a relationship between depression and cardiovascular disease. The study, co-led by Simon Fraser University health science professor Scott Lear, adds to the composite evidence that symptoms of depression could lead to an increased risk of heart disease and premature death.
The study analyzed data from 145,862 middle-aged participants from 21 countries and found a 20 percent increase in cardiovascular events and death in people with four or more depressive symptoms. Participants living in urban areas showed doubly greater risks. This is worrisome as the majority of the world‘s population will live in urban areas by 2050. Depressed men were also found to be more than twice as likely as women to suffer from cardiovascular disease.
Lear explains that the study results are timely, as experts predict an increase in the number of people facing mental health problems as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people have reported depressive symptoms, even those who are not normally at risk for depression.
Traditional risk factors
The results of the study published in JAMA Psychiatry suggest that depressive symptoms should be considered as important as the traditional risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, such as smoking, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Greater awareness of the physical health risks associated with depression is needed and should be taken into account by physicians when analyzing risk factors in patients.
The results of the study add to the growing evidence of the current policies of the World Health Organization (WHO), which aim to integrate the treatment and prevention of mental disorders in primary care. The researchers hope that this study will help outline the importance of addressing noncommunicable diseases and mental disorders to achieve greater overall health, including cardiovascular disease.
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