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Cardiovascular Medicine, Mental Health, Public Health, Research

Study shows depression may raise young adults’ risk of dying from heart disease

Depression among young adults appears to have greater negative effects on their hearts than previously recognized, according to findings published this month in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

In the study (subscription required), researchers examined data from 7,641 people between the ages of 17 and 39 who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey-III, a nationwide survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics between 1988 and 1994. Deaths were tracked through 2006. According to a Emory university release, the results showed:

Women with depression or a history of attempted suicide had a three times higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and a 14 times higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease (heart attack). The corresponding figures for men were 2.4 times higher risk for cardiovascular disease and 3.5 times higher risk for ischemic heart disease.

. . .The researchers considered the possibility that depressed people may have more lifestyle-related risk factors such as smoking and poor diet. They found a significant link to heart disease risk coming from depression and suicide attempts, even after correcting statistically for unhealthy behaviors.

Researchers say the findings are disconcerting because young adults are typically considered to be at low risk for heart disease and related death. For this reason, they advocate for further studies on the connection between depression and heart health.

Previously: CDC report shows depression rates higher in the Southeastern United States, Why are women more likely to need mental-health help? and Some 4.9 million Californians need help for mental health.
Photo by Ashley Webb

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