Detect Depression Early To Save Your Heart

By: Bel Marra Health | General Health | Monday, February 24, 2014 - 06:00 AM


Eat breakfast. Drink water. Exercise. Healthy lifestyle habits do plenty to keep your heart strong.

New research shows that heart-healthy habits will also help you respond better to treatment for depression.

In today’s society, depression is very common, affecting more than 350 million people worldwide. Numerous studies have found that depression is a major risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease, which may lead to heart attack and stroke.

Researchers from the School of Science at Indiana-Purdue University Indianapolis found that treating depression before the onset of any cardiovascular disease signs and symptoms may help to reduce the risk of future cardiac events, including heart attack and stroke.

Depression Basics: How Does It Feel?

Depression is a common mental health disorder that affects people of all ages around the world. Symptoms vary, but it may bring on prolonged feelings of sadness and decreased self worth, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, decreased appetite, difficulty concentrating and sleeping. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

The goods news is that there are a variety of effective treatments for depression. But even though these treatments are available, fewer than half of affected individuals receives appropriate care.

RELATED READING: Call For Help: Mental Illness Rising In Older Adults

Depression And Cardiovascular Disease

The researchers from Indiana-Purdue evaluated the outcome when depression was treated before the onset of any cardiovascular symptoms. For the study, 235 clinically depressed older adults were selected; 168 of them did not have pre-existing cardiovascular disease while the other 67 did have pre-existing cardiovascular disease.

The participants randomly were assigned to either standard care, or collaborative care with antidepressants and psychotherapy. The results showed that when collaborative care for depression was given to individuals without pre-existing cardiovascular disease, the risk of heart attack or stroke in the next eight years was reduced by 48 percent, compared to individuals who received standard care for their depression. A huge drop in risk.

To note, the decreased risk was not seen when collaborative care was given to participants with pre-existing cardiovascular disease. Results of the study were published in the January 2014 edition of Psychosomatic Medicine.

RELATED READING: Do One Simple Thing To Protect Your Heart

Reduce Your Risk With Lifestyle Changes

One thing is for certain, backed by many scientific studies: Healthy lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

These life-changing habits include eating a healthy diet, where vegetables fill half your dinner plate, quitting smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation, and engaging in regular physical activity – even a brisk 30-minute daily walk with your arms pumping.

Treating symptoms of depression also may have a significant positive impact on cardiovascular disease risk. Results from the Indiana-Purdue study suggest that in order to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in clinically depressed patients, treatment needs to be initiated before cardiovascular disease symptoms appear. Prevention, prevention, prevention!

While additional, larger scale studies are needed to confirm the findings, treatment of depression may play a vital role in reducing disability and death caused by cardiovascular disease.

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