According to a new study, depression has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke later in life.
Cambridge University experts analyzed the health records of more than half a million people with no history of heart or circulatory disease.
Those who reported the most severe depressive symptoms were more likely to have had heart disease or a stroke more than a decade later.
The experts say the increased risk is small and has been seen over a long period of time, which means their study shouldn’t alarm people with depression.
They also didn’t find out that depression was the cause of these health conditions.
The new study linking depression to poor heart health shouldn’t be alarming to those currently suffering from bad mood or feelings of depression
WHAT IS HEART DISEASE?
Heart disease includes conditions that narrow or block blood vessels (coronary artery disease).
This can lead to a heart attack, angina, and some strokes.
Heart disease also includes conditions that affect the heart muscle and valves, or that cause abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias).
Source: British Heart Foundation
“This is the greatest evidence yet that feelings related to depression are linked to the likelihood that a person will have heart disease or stroke in the future,” said Professor Emanuele Di Angelantonio of Cambridge University.
“The higher risk observed is small and these results are only part of the puzzle.”
The researchers based their findings on people who participated in two different studies – the UK Biobank and the Emerging Risk Factor Collaboration (ERFC).
Study participants were enrolled in the UK biobank between 2006 and 2010 and the ERFC between 1960 and 2008.
When participating in the studies, participants were given a rating based on questionnaires that rated their mood and any symptoms of depression they’d experienced in the past week or two.
These ratings were divided into five groups based on the increasing severity of symptoms.
In March 2020, participants from the UK Biobank and the ERFC were screened for the incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
CVD is an nickname for diseases that affect the heart or circulation and include stroke, high blood pressure, and vascular dementia.
Heart disease includes conditions that narrow or block blood vessels and can lead to heart attacks, angina, and some strokes
OPTIMISM COULD REDUCE THE RISK OF HEART ATTACK OR STROKE BY 35 PERCENT: 2019 STUDY
Looking at the good side of life could reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke by more than a third, according to a 2019 study.
US researchers studied 230,000 participants from the US, Europe, Israel, and Australia who were followed for an average of 14 years.
Among those identified as optimists, there were 35 percent fewer strokes and heart attacks than the others.
Deaths from all causes, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia, and diabetes, were also 14 percent lower among the optimists.
Researchers believe that people with positive thoughts are more inclined to exercise and eat well to protect their health.
You may also be better able to deal with stress and anxiety, which can put pressure on the heart and cause inflammation.
Lead author Professor Alan Rozanski, Mount Sinai, St. Luke’s Hospital, New York, said, “The results suggest that optimistic attitudes are associated with lower cardiovascular risk and that promoting optimism and reducing pessimism is important for preventative health care could be.”
Those in the group with the highest scores and the most severe symptoms of depression have since had a higher rate of heart disease or stroke than those with the lowest scores, researchers report.
In the UK biobank cohort of 401,219 participants, there were 21 cases of heart disease per 1,000 people over 10 years of age in the highest-scored group.
That number compared to 14 cases of heart disease per 1,000 people in the group with the lowest score.
In addition, there were 15 strokes per 1,000 people over 10 years in the group with the highest score and 10 strokes per 1,000 people in the group with the lowest score.
This means an additional seven cases of heart disease and five strokes per 10,000 people are expected for those with higher symptoms of depression in one year.
Similar results were found in the ERFC cohort of 162,036 people from 21 different studies in Europe and North America.
The higher risk of heart disease and stroke was even after taking into account risk factors for heart and circulatory diseases such as age, gender, smoking status, history of diabetes, blood pressure, body mass index and cholesterol level.
“The extent of the associations was modest, however,” the researchers point out, adding that symptoms of depression were only measured when each individual was included in the study.
This means that the results don’t necessarily reflect a person’s feelings throughout the time they were part of the study.
The team also did not establish a causal link – whether depression specifically causes later health problems.
“We now need to do more research to understand whether these observed associations are causal and what biology is behind this relationship,” said Professor Di Angelantonio.
The team also stresses that those currently suffering from mental health problems should not be affected by the study.
Anyone can help prevent heart problems later on by quitting smoking, reducing alcohol, staying physically active, and eating a healthy and balanced diet – whether or not they have depression.
“Our mental and physical health go hand in hand,” said Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, medical director of the British Heart Foundation.
“This research shows that our hearts and minds are more connected than we previously thought.
“If we explore this relationship further, we may find new ways to improve our heart health.
“However, it is important to emphasize that the increased risk is small and will be observed over a long period of time.
“It shouldn’t concern those currently in a bad mood or depressed about their immediate heart health.”
This study, which was also supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and Health Data Research UK (HDRUK), was published in JAMA.
THE CAUSES OF THE STRIKING
There are two types of stroke:
1st ICHEMICAL STRIKE
Ischemic stroke – which makes up 80 percent of strokes – occurs when a blood vessel becomes blocked and prevents blood from reaching any part of the brain.
2. HEMORRHAGIC STRIKE
The rarer, hemorrhagic stroke, occurs when a blood vessel bursts and floods part of the brain with too much blood while depriving other areas of adequate blood supply.
This could be the result of an AVM or an arteriovenous malformation (an abnormal collection of blood vessels) in the brain.
30 percent of patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage die before they reach the hospital. Another 25 percent die within 24 hours. And 40 percent of the survivors die within a week.
Age, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, family history, and a history of a previous stroke or TIA are risk factors for stroke.
Symptoms of a stroke
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding
- Sudden changes in vision or blurred vision in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or incoordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Of the roughly three in four people who survive a stroke, many have lifelong disabilities.
This includes difficulty walking, communicating, eating, and completing everyday tasks or tasks.
Both of these are potentially fatal and patients need surgery or a drug called tPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) to save them within three hours. THE CAUSES OF THE STRIKING