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 Dr. George Jacob
Heart Infocenter

Holistic-online.com

Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)

Depression Increases The Risk For Heart Attack

It had been known that chronic depression hampers patients' recovery from a heart attack. Now there is evidence to suggest that people who are depressed may be more likely to have a heart attack in the first place, according to a report published in the June 1, 1996 issue of Circulation.

In a 30-year study of 730 Danish men and women, researchers found that those who scored highest for depression on a standardized psychological test had a 70 percent greater risk of having a heart attack during the three decades following than those with the least depression. The risk of dying from all causes, including a heart attack, was 60 percent greater among the depressed. The link appeared to be graded-that is, the chance of having a heart attack was greatest for people with the highest depression scores and became less likely as scores decreased.

The authors speculated that chronic depression may stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, causing blood vessels to constrict and raising heart rate and blood pressure, which could contribute to heart disease over time.

"Few of the participants had depression that was severe enough to need psychiatric intervention, such as antidepressants," said co-author John Barefoot, PhD, a psychologist at Duke University Medical Center. So, even without a clinical diagnosis of depression, depressive symptoms, if they are long-lasting, can affect physical health. Mild depression can be treated with exercise, herbs, meditation, and psychotherapy. See Holisticonline.com Depression Infocenter to learn more about depression and its treatment.

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