According to a new study published recently in the journal Atherosclerosis, depression has been classified as yet another risk factor for heart disease alongside high cholesterol, smoking, or obesity. A team of German researchers analyzed data pulled from approximately 3,400 European men with ages between 45 to 74. Over the course of 10 years, the scientists observed heart disease triggered by depression claimed as many lives, if not even more, as other risk factors associated with heart-related issues.
Per the latest findings, depression accounted for nearly 15 percent deaths due to coronary and cardiovascular heart-related illnesses. At the same time, obesity and high cholesterol were responsible for 8 to 21 percent of heart disease deaths. Ultimately, diabetes accounted for only 5 to 8 percent heart-related deaths and was perceived less of a risk than depression.
According to the researchers, only two risk factors accounted for more heart-related deaths than impaired mental health. Hence, about 17 to 20 percent of smokers were most likely to succumb to a heart attack or other heart-related issues, while high blood pressure accounted for as much as 34 percent of deaths linked to heart disease.
As a preventive measure, the authors urge those who have a family history of heart disease to undergo regular mental health screenings to prevent additional risk to the heart. At the same time, as opposed to addressing other risk factors such as cholesterol or high blood pressure, treating depression at an early stage comes with tangible benefits.
Even though not involved in the study, cardiovascular researcher at Salt Lake City’s Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute and Ph.D. Heidi May, says the new data is in line with previous studies that drew similar conclusions.
She added that depression may bring about both direct as well as indirect changes in the patient’s body that also refer to behavioral changes. Hence, a depressed individual is more likely to skip prescribed medication, take up smoking, and overlook physical activity, for example, which, in turn, contributes to the onset of various heart affections. Ultimately, previous surveys revealed that the association between depression and heart disease is a two-way street. Hence, while depression contributes to heart disease, suffering from a heart-related condition could lead to increased anxiety, which can impair recovery, in turn.
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