Depression Can Lead To Increased Heart Attack Risk
November 28, 2011

Depression Can Lead To Increased Heart Attack Risk

Researchers report that individuals who suffer from a mood disorder could be twice as likely to have a heart attack compared to individuals who do not.

A new study from Concordia University researchers found that depressed individuals have a slower recovery time after exercise compared to those who are non-depressed.

The findings suggest that a dysfunctional biological stress system is the culprit behind depressed individuals.

The team warns of the importance of testing for cardiovascular disease among people who suffer from major depression.

“There have been two competing theories as to why depression is linked to cardiovascular disease,” first author Jennifer Gordon, who is a PhD candidate at McGill University, said in a press release “Depressed people may have poorer health behaviors, which may in turn lead to heart problems."

"The other possibility is physiological: a problem with the stress system known as the fight or flight response. Our study was the first to examine the role of a dysfunctional fight or flight response in depression in a large population.”

The team used 886 participants who where an average age of 60 in the study.  About 5 percent of the participants were diagnosed with a major depressive disorder.

All of the individuals involved in the study were asked to undergo a stress test after which their heart rate and blood pressure were recorded.

Recovery heart rates and blood pressure levels were compared between depressed and non-depressed individuals.

“We found that it took longer for the heart rate of depressed individuals to return to normal,” senior author, Simon Bacon, a professor in the Concordia University Department of Exercise Science and a researcher at the Montreal Heart Institute, said in a press release. “Heart rate recovery from exercise is one way to measure the fight or flight stress response.

"The delayed ability to establish a normal heart rate in the depressed individuals indicates a dysfunctional stress response. We believe that this dysfunction, can contribute to their increased risk for heart disease.”

The research was published in the journal Psychophysiology.


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