A recent article from the Associated Press reported on the results of a major, 12 year study on women and heart disease.
The study followed 63,000 women over a 12 year period of time. At the onset of the study, none of the women showed any symptoms or signs of heart disease. Almost 8 percent of the women were suffering from severe depression.
The women in the study with depression had more than twice the risk of dying from sudden cardiac death (generally caused by an abnormal heart rate) and an increased risk of dying from all other types of heart disease.
One of the most surprising results of the study indicated that women taking antidepressants had the highest risk of sudden cardiac death.
Although the study, at first glance, would indicate antidepressant medication could cause an increased risk for sudden cardiac death, the researchers point out that the results may also mean women taking antidepressants were suffering from more severe depression and it is the depression that places women at risk rather than the antidepressants.
Depression, the lead researcher, Dr. William Whang indicated, believes the results of the study indicate that depression may be a risk factor in heart disease for women such as blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking are.
Some of the reasons depression can have an impact on heart health include:
- Depression may cause someone to have a higher heart rate during resting times.
- Depression may cause someone to avoid medical care or skip taking medications.
- Depression may cause people to avoid exercise and eat poorly.
The study does not draw any conclusive results and more studies may provide some additional information.
"More Proof Depression Hurts Women", 2009, March 9, Associated Press