People who have suffered major bouts of depression may be as much as four times more likely than others to have a heart attack, researchers reported Monday.
The researchers said it’s not clear why that’s so, but an expert not involved with the study, Dr. Edmund Sonnenblick, chief of cardiology at Einstein Medical College in New York, noted that depression is a severe form of stress, and stress raises the risk of a heart attack.
The study, conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, was based on interviews over 13 years with about 2,000 Baltimore men and women of various ages with no history of heart disease before they suffered a heart attack.
Eight percent of those who had suffered severe depression and 6 percent of those who had experienced milder depression later had heart attacks. Among those with no history of depression, only 3 percent suffered heart attacks.
When the findings were adjusted for age, gender, smoking and medical histories, the gap widened - those who had had major depression were four times more likely to have a heart attack than those who had never been depressed.
The study was published in the December issue of Circulation.