New Research Reveals Risk of Cardiac Disease Due to Depression

Depression and heart disease

New Research Reveals Risk of Cardiac Disease Due to Depression

“Depression and heart disease are interwoven. A new study relates depression to poor scores on seven important heart health measures.”

Key Findings
  • Individuals with mild depression have a 1.4-times greater likelihood of lower cardiovascular health.
  • Those with moderate depression are three times more likely to have lower cardiovascular health.


Depression and Heart Disease – Summary

Millions of people are affected by Depression and Cardiac Disease globally.

The person with depression needs attention as they are not in a condition to think better for themselves.

Suffering from anxiety is common nowadays, though.

In 2014, an American Heart Association manifesto listed depression as jeopardy for a poor prognosis after a heart attack or unstable angina (chest pain at rest due to reduced blood flow to the heart).

The connection between depression and heart disease finds the risk of death in heart attack survivors with depression almost three times than those without depression.


The Study

The research was conducted on more than 4,000 people aged 25 and over. Moreover, they were selected from the 2015-16 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

All the subjects were screened for depression using a Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ). Further, they were categorized in minimal, mild, or moderate-to-severe depression cases. 

For evaluation, the study employed the American Heart Association’s assessment of cardiovascular health. The factors assessed were BMI, smoking, diet, physical activity, cholesterol, and blood pressure.

After relating PHQ scores to cardiovascular health, researchers found a stark relation between depression and heart disease. 

The findings, after adjusting for age, race, and income, suggests people with depression are also more likely to have poor heart health. 

To put it into numbers, mild depressive cases have a 1.4-times likelihood of lower heart health. On the other hand, those with moderate depression are three times more vulnerable.

Taking this one step further, studies also suggest a two-way relation between Chronic Depression and Heart Disease

People with depression can develop heart disorders, but the reverse is also possible. In fact, 15% to 30% of people with cardiovascular disease also have depression.

Dr. Christopher Celano, associate director of the Cardiac Psychiatry Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, affirms the behavioral link between depression and heart disease.

So, the Reasons Can Be Multifaceted in Nature:

  • Those with depressive symptoms are less prone to take care of their health.
  • Anxiety and depression-ridden people also tend to have less focus on self-care in general.
  • Depression and mood swings can make them habitual to smoking and unhealthy patterns.

Henceforth, it’s important for people with depressive symptoms to seek the help of a professional. Ignoring the signs and symptoms can lead to more complications in the future. 


Depression and Heart Disease Go Hand-in-Hand

Depression has emerged as a causal risk factor for heart disease.

Depressive symptoms following heart disease are also common. So, it’s run-of-the-mill to have both conditions together.

Depression is twice more likely to happen to people with heart disease as compared to the general population.

People with depression face a profound risk of heart disease, in fact.

After lots of research, now scientists know more about the Relationship between Depression and Heart Disease.

A quarter of heart patients suffer from depression.

Adults with depression often develop heart disease as well.

In the 66th Annual Scientific Session at the American College of Cardiology, a study shows patients are twice as likely to die if they develop depression after being diagnosed with heart disease.

Depression is the predictor of death in the first decade after a cardiac disease diagnosis.

Robert Carney, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine delivers:

We are confident that depression is an independent risk factor for cardiac morbidity and mortality in patients with established heart disease.

But how does depression have such an effect?

There are Many Possible Explanations Including:

  • autonomic nervous system dysfunction,
  • elevated cortisol levels, and
  • elevated markers of inflammation
  • poor adherence to a diet schedule
  • lack of exercise along with medications, and
  • a higher prevalence of smoking.


Symptoms: Alert Signs

Depression influences the entire body, not just the brain.

It leads to low-grade inflammation. This further is the reason behind the clogging of arteries and the rupture of cholesterol-filled plaque.

Depression also bolsters the release of stress hormones. This dulls the response of the heart and arteries for increased blood flow.

It triggers blood cell fragments known as platelets, making them more likely to clump and form clots in the bloodstream.

  • After being diagnosed with heart disease, it’s natural to feel moody and annoyed.
  • Anxiety, which goes hand in hand with depression, is prevalent as well.
  • People often have issues sleeping and feel fatigued.

The stress of undergoing bypass surgery or a heart valve operation can take months to fully recover from mentally.

But if those symptoms don’t improve over time, they could be signs of depression.

The doctor may ask these questions for diagnosing Depression Patients with Heart Disease:

  • Are these past few months, makes you feeling down, depressed, or hopeless?
  • Do you lose interest or pleasure in doing things?

If YES, you’re very likely to have depression.

Other Common Symptoms of Depression Include:

  • lack of energy
  • loss of appetite
  • difficulty sleeping
  • feelings of worthlessness or loss of self-esteem
  • irritability throughout the day
  • excessive fatigue
  • loss of interest in sex


Depression before a Heart Attack is Fatal 

The rates of depressive disorders in various cardiological conditions are higher than the frequencies in the healthy population.

An adverse Anxiety and Depression Effect on Heart Disease can be high mortality.

Anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders are also pertinent to cardiological conditions. 

In many cases, depression is a halt in heart disease treatment.

Treating depression and anxiety in cardiological patients’ needs Cognitive-behavioral psychotherapies.



Depression is a compelling risk factor for new heart disease to crop up. Moreover, it boosts morbidity and mortality in established heart disease cases.

Studies have already related Depression and Heart Disease with platelet dysfunction, inflammation, and psychosocial factors.

The treatment of Depression in Cardiac Patients has to be done with proper safety measures. This is obviously something to be handled with care.                                 

The treatments are best carried out under the supervision of a Consultation-Liaison psychiatric service. The concerned professional should also co-operate continuously with cardiological departments.

Of course, it’s best to take early measures before it’s too late. 

Today’s lifestyle carries a whole new level of social pressure and stress. It may easily lead to Depression and Risk of Heart Disease.

Henceforth, it’s important to exercise daily and have a healthy meal plan.

Moreover, steer clear from overthinking and overindulgence in stressful situations. After all, health is wealth. And stress is the stepping stone to depression and a range of other health issues. 

Hopefully, this article offered you useful insight. We look forward to your comments and views. Drop them right below and strike up a discussion!



    1. Depression Worsens Cardiovascular Health: A Population-based Cohort Study (NHANES, 2015-16): Brent Medoff, Andrew Baird, Univ of Pittsburgh Medical Ctr, Pittsburgh, PA; Brandon Herbert, Univ of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA; Jared W Magnani, Univ of Pittsburgh Medical Ctr, Pittsburgh, PA, November 2020


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