Depression a Risk Factor for Cardiovascular Disease

January 17th 2017
Lauren Santye, Assistant Editor
Lauren Santye, Assistant Editor

Risk of cardiovascular disease in men with depression is as great as that posed by obesity.

The impact of depression on the risk of cardiovascular disease in men is as great as the risk posed by obesity and hypercholesterolemia, according to a study inAtherosclerosis.

“There is little doubt that depression is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease,” said group leader Karl-Heinz Ladwig.

The investigators wanted to determine the relationship between depression and other risk factors, such as high cholesterol, tobacco smoke, hypertension, or obesity. Furthermore, they wanted to determine how big of a role each of the factors plays.

For the study, the investigators analyzed data from 3428 male patients aged 45 to 74 years, and observed their development over a 10-year period.

“The work is based on a prospective population-based data set from the MONICA/KORA study that, with a total term of up to 25 years, is one of the few large studies in Europe that allows such an analysis,” said Dr Jens Baumert.

The scientists compared the impact of depression with the 4 major risk factors.

“Our investigation shows that the risk of fatal cardiovascular disease due to depression is almost as great as that due to elevated cholesterol levels or obesity,” Ladwig said.

The results of the study showed that only smoking and high blood pressure were associated with a greater risk.

Depression accounts for an estimated 15% of cardiovascular deaths, according to the authors. The figure is comparable to the risk factors of hypercholesterolemia, obesity, and smoking, which cause 8.4% to 21.4% of cardiovascular deaths.

“Our data shows that depression has a medium effect size within the range of major, non-congenital risk factors forcardiovascular diseases,” Ladwig said. “In high-risk patients, the diagnostic investigation of co-morbid depression should be standard. This could be registered with simple means.”

The World Health Organization estimates that 350 million individuals around the globe are affected by depression.

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