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Stress and Depression Can Be Deadly in Those with Heart Problems

| March 11, 2015 Comment

Stress and Depression Can Be Deadly in Those with Heart Problems – Researchers found an increased risk of heart attack or death in patients who had both stress and depression.

The new study, led by Carmela Alcántara, an associate research scientist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, involved close to 5,000 people with coronary heart disease who were 45 years or older. Participants went through in-home examinations and answered questionnaires on stress and depression from 2003 to 2007. Questions included, how often they felt lonely or cried, or felt overwhelmed.

About 12% of participants reported high stress, 14% said they had high levels of depression, and 6% said they had both.

After a six-year follow-up, researchers found that 1,337 participants had a heart attack or died. Those who had both high stress and high depression had a 48% risk of having a heart attack or dying within 2 1/2 years of the in-home examination, which researchers referred to as a “high vulnerability period.” After this period, the increase in risk disappeared in this group and in those who reported having only one of the risk factors.

Though this study was limited to people who already had heart problems, there have been other studies that have linked stress and depression to development of heart disease. When not managed stress can lead to high blood pressure, arterial damage, irregular heart rhythms and a weakened immune system.

Researchers say that in such cases, stress and depression management therapies may help improve the health of patients.

The study was published March 10, 2015, in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.


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