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Heart Disease Doubled By Depression

Update Date: Jun 19, 2014 08:02 PM EDT

Depression doubles the risk of heart attack or premature death in young and middle-aged women, according to a new study.

Researchers said that new findings suggest that there is a direct link between depression and heart problems, and could explain why heart attacks are deadlier for younger women than their male counterparts.

"Women in this age group are also more likely to have depression, so this may be one of the 'hidden' risk factors that can help explain why women die at a disproportionately higher rate than men after a heart attack," said researcher Dr. Amit Shah, an assistant professor of Epidemiology at Emory University in Atlanta, according to a news release.

The latest study involved 3,237 people with known or suspected heart disease. Participants had undergone coronary angiography, an X-ray that diagnoses disease in the arteries that bring blood to the heart.

The latest study revealed that a third of people in the study were women. The average age of participants was 62.

The findings revealed that moderate or severe depression doubled women risk of heart attacks, death or need for artery-opening procedures compared to other women aged 55 and younger.

Researchers found a 7 percent increase in the presence of heart disease with each one-point increase in depression symptoms among younger women.

However, symptoms of depression did not seen to predict heart disease in men or older women.

"Depression itself is a reason to take action, but knowing that it is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and death should motivate people to seek help," Shah noted, according to the Daily Mail.

"Providers need to ask more questions. They need to be aware that young women are especially vulnerable to depression, and that depression may increase the risk to their heart," he added.

The findings were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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