Depression Increases Your Risk of Heart Failure

depression increases your risk of heart failureA new study reports some startling news: moderate to severe depression increases your risk of heart failure by 40 percent.[1]

“We found a dose-response relationship between depressive symptoms and the risk of developing heart failure, ” said Lise Tuset Gustad, intensive care nurse at Levanger Hospital in Norway, and first author of the study. “That means that the more depressed you feel, the more you are at risk.”1

The study analyzed data that was collected during the second wave of a large epidemiological study in Nord-Trondelag county in Norway—the Nord-Trondelag Health Study.1 Approximately 63,000 of the 97,000 residents in the county agreed to take part.1 Information was collected, including body mass index, physical activity, smoking habits, blood pressure, and depression.1

As each Norwegian citizen receives a unique 11-digit number at birth that is also used at hospitals and the National Cause of Death Registry, the researchers used this number to track which patients were hospitalized with or died from heart failure during their 11-year study.1

During the 11 years, nearly 1,500 people developed heart failure.1 Compared with residents who did not have any symptoms of depression, those with mild depression had a five percent increased risk of developing heart failure.1 However, even more scary, those with moderate to severe depression had a 40 percent increased risk.1

“Depressive symptoms increase the chance of developing heart failure, and the more severe the symptoms are, the greater the risk,” said Gustad. “Depressed people have less healthy lifestyles, so our analysis adjusted for factors such as obesity and smoking that could cause both depression and heart failure. This means we can be confident that these factors did not cause the association.”1

As effective treatments are available for depression, especially if people get help early, these treatments should be taken advantage of.1

“The early symptoms of depression include a loss of interest and loss of pleasure in things that have normally been interesting or given pleasure,” said Gustad. “If you feel like that, speak to your friends, and if it lasts for a month, see your doctor or nurse. Depression can be treated easily in the early stages, and many people don’t need medication. Talking to a professional may be all you need.”1

Depression triggers stress hormones, which can cause other symptoms and make the disorder disabling.1

“If you’re stressed, you feel your pulse going up and your breath speeding up, which is the result of hormones being released,” said Gustad. “Those stress hormones also induce inflammation and atherosclerosis, which may accelerate heart diseases. Another mechanism could also be because depressed people find it more difficult to follow advice about how to take medications and improve their lifestyle. It blocks people’s ability to take their medications as prescribed, stop smoking, improve their diet, or exercise more.”1

[1] Wood, J. (2014). Depression Can Hike Risk of Heart Failure by 40 Percent. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 8, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/04/04/depression-can-hike-risk-of-heart-failure-by-40-percent/68062.html

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