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Depression Linked To Cardiovascular Deaths; Mental Health Problem As Deadly As High Cholesterol

Update Date: Jan 30, 2017 08:10 AM EST

A new research suggests that depression could pose a similar risk as high cholesterol, obesity and smoking in causing cardiovascular deaths. Mental health issues are not commonly looked into as contributors of heart disease.

German researchers looked into the health information of 3,428 European men, 45 to 74 years old, and followed up after 10 years. Analysts found out that death due to cardiovascular disease during the study period is strongly associated with the classic risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity and smoking. There were 557 cases of all-cause mortality and 269 fatal cardiovascular deaths recorded.

In the research, depression was determined by a checklist of anxiety, fatigue and mood symptoms. The mental health problem accounted for 15 percent of cardiovascular deaths, while high cholesterol and obesity had eight to 21 percent. Diabetes posed a lesser risk with only five to eight percent coronary deaths.

Two risk factors that accounted more deaths than depression are smoking and high blood pressure. Smoking accounts 17 to 20 percent cardiovascular deaths while high blood pressure has 30 to 34 percent.

Researchers believe that depression should be addressed to prevent additional risks to the heart. Treating mental health problems such as depression has a tangible benefit on the patient, unlike high blood pressure or cholesterol.

Heidi May, a cardiovascular researcher at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City, agrees with the German researchers. She said the results are in line with what is being reported in other studies.

May believes that there is a growing recognition to screen and treat depression to avoid cardiovascular outcomes such as death. She said that depressed people are more likely to smoke, become more sedentary and even skip their medication. These behavioral and physiological changes happening in the body of an individual suffering from depression can put them more at risk of cardiovascular death.

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