Women who have heart disease and depression have a higher risk of death due to cardiovascular problems. A recent study compared a group of women who were less than 55 years old, men who were less than 55 years old and women who were greater than 55 years old. The women in the less than 55-year-old group were said to be “especially vulnerable to the adverse cardiovascular effects of depression.”
Depression has been shown to be a risk factor for the development of heart disease and death due to coronary artery disease. Reports have suggested that the risk of developing heart disease is 50 percent or greater when coupled with depression. In general, fewer younger women develop heart problems compared with older women. However, even though heart disease death rates have dropped in general, there has been less of a decline in heart disease related deaths in the younger female population.
The recently reported study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, looked at the relation of heart disease and depression, and the results indicated there was a higher risk of death in younger women who had heart disease and depression. The study was carried out at Emory University and participants were recruited from the Emory Cardiovascular Biobank. Patients that were having coronary angiography were recruited. The study population consisted of 3,911 subjects. Depressive characteristics were assessed with the nine question Primary Care Evaluation of Mental Disorders Patient Health Questionnaire. The subjects were followed for three years and all-cause mortality rates were obtained from family reports and hospital records.
The women in the younger age group, less than 55 years old, with depression were shown to be twice as likely to have a heart attack or die from coronary heart disease compared with the older women and men in the study groups. Researchers found that as depression increased, according to the assessment scale, the risk for heart disease increased.
The authors of the study suggested that younger women should be aware of the potential problem of heart disease that is associated with depression. They also suggested that depression be considered a risk factor for the development of heart disease just as diabetes and high blood pressure are considered as risk factors for heart disease.
This study is an example of the value of gender consideration in medical research studies. Consideration of gender differences is becoming a requirement in research on medical conditions. In the past, many research studies and clinical trials were carried out only on males in an effort to control hormonal factors. As a result, how diseases occurred or progressed in females was unknown. Due to efforts to include both women and men in medical research, it is now recognized, for example, that the symptoms of stroke or a heart attack are very different in females compared to males.
This recent study showed that younger women with heart disease and depression have a higher risk of death due to coronary problems, in comparison with older women or men. Greater knowledge of risk factors for heart disease is expected to aid the medical community in developing prevention and treatment for this much too prevalent problem.
By Margaret Lutze