Diet, physical activity, blood pressure, diabetes, body mass index, and even smoking status are just some of the factors that contribute to a person’s risk of heart disease. Heart disease remains the number one killer for both men and women, although many of its risk factors are completely modifiable, meaning the condition is not inevitable.
One other factor, which is often overlooked due to the stigma associated with it, is depression, but there is growing evidence that depression puts your heart at risk for heart disease and other cardiovascular events. The latest findings suggest that receiving effective treatment for your depression can actually lower your risk of heart disease.
Depression is often overlooked in seniors as it can often be mistaken for other health problems, meaning that depression doesn’t receive the appropriate treatment it requires. A new study suggests that treating depression can lower a person’s risk of heart disease, which is especially important for seniors as they are at a high risk for both.
The study looked at 7,550 people and found that those who effectively treated their depression could lower their risk of heart disease to the risk levels similar to those who have never experienced depression.
The risk of a major heart problem in the participants was 4.6 percent among those who effectively treated depression, 4.8 percent among those without depression, six percent among those who had depression and did not respond to treatment, and 6.4 percent among those who developed depression over the course of the study.
Heidi May, a cardiovascular epidemiologist, said, “Our study shows that prompt, effective treatment of depression appears to improve the risk of poor heart health. With the help of past research, we know depression affects long-term cardiovascular risks, but knowing that alleviating the symptoms of depression reduces a person’s risk of heart disease in the short term, too, can help care providers and patients commit more fully to treating the symptoms of depression.”
“The key conclusion of our study is: If depression isn’t treated, the risk of cardiovascular complications increases significantly,” concluded May.
Additional research is required to determine which treatment methods for depression are most effective in reducing the risk of heart disease.
Furthermore, if you feel that you are suffering from depression, don’t let that stigma stand in the way of your recovery. Depression is treatable, but it involves the willingness to open up and seek help. Don’t be ashamed of how you feel and speak to your doctor about what treatment options are available.