Depression a ‘powerful’ risk factor for heart disease in young women

Young women are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack or die of heart disease if they suffer from depression, a new study suggests.

Researchers looked at 3,237 patients with suspected or established heart disease who were undergoing coronary angiography – a medical procedure used to diagnose narrowing in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. On the same day of the procedure, the patients answered nine questions assessing their state of mind.

If the patient was experiencing moderate to severe depression, and was under 55 years old, researchers found she had double the chance of experiencing a heart attack in the next few years. Depressed women under 55 were also twice as likely to have heart disease or to die from any cause during that time period than those who were not depressed. Men and those women older than 55 with depression did not show the same increased risk.

Depression is as powerful a risk factor for heart disease as diabetes and smoking, study author Dr. Amit Shah, a cardiologist at Emory University in Atlanta, concluded.