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Depressed Patients who Exercise have a Reduced Risk of Heart Disease, Study Says

Update Date: Jan 12, 2016 09:33 AM EST

Exercising can lead to many health benefits, and according to a new study, one of these benefits is a reduced risk of heart disease in depressed patients.

In this study, the research team from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta examined the link between depressive symptoms and cardiovascular disease. Previous studies have found that people with depression have an increased chance of developing heart disease as well as other physical conditions.

The researchers recruited 965 people who did not have any heart conditions and were never diagnosed with one of these mental health conditions - affective, psychotic or anxiety disorder. Physical activity levels and depressive symptoms were assessed via a questionnaire. The researchers also kept track of early indicators of heart disease.

The team discovered a link between patients with the worst depressive symptoms and two signs of heart disease. The signs included arterial stiffening and inflammation. When exercise levels were factored in, the researchers found that people who reported lower levels of physical activity tend to have more pronounced heart disease signs.

The researchers concluded that adding exercise to the routine of mildly depressed patients could yield health benefits.

"Our findings highlight the link between worsening depression and cardiovascular risk and support routinely assessing depression in patients to determine heart disease risk. This research also demonstrates the positive effects of exercise for all patients, including those with depressive symptoms," said study author Arshed A. Quyyumi, M.D., reported in the press release. "There are many patients with heart disease who also experience depression - we need to study whether encouraging them to exercise will reduce their risk of adverse outcomes."

The study's findings were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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