Young women with depression ‘more likely to suffer heart attack’

Woman looking out window

A new study investigating links between depression and heart disease has found that women aged 55 and younger are more than twice as likely to suffer from major cardiac problems if they have moderate or severe depression.

These cardiac problems include death from heart disease,heart attacks and requiring an artery-opening procedure.

Depression and heart disease are both more likely to be found in women than men.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that around 1 in 5 Americans are affected by depression. Females have higher rates of depression than males in every age group, with the highest rate being 12%, found in females aged 40-59.

The American Heart Association (AHA) state that heart disease is the number 1 cause of death in American women, claiming the lives of 1 in 3, compared with the 1 in 31 who die frombreast cancer. Heart disease can also affect women of all ages.

A link between depression and heart disease?

Researchers from Emory University in Atlanta, GA, whose findings were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that there could be a link between the two conditions.

The researchers examined 3,235 people with known or suspected heart disease who were scheduled to have a coronary angiography, an X-ray that can diagnose disease found in the arteries. The participants were assessed for the symptoms of depression, and follow-ups took place for around 3 years afterward.

Among the participants, 34% were women, and the average age of the participants was 62.5 years.

After adjusting for other heart disease risk factors, the researchers found the following:


  • In women aged 55 and younger, for every 1 point increase in depression symptoms, there was an associated 7% increase in the presence of heart disease.
  • If women aged 55 and younger had moderate or severe depression, they were 2.17 times more likely to suffer a heart attack, die of heart disease, or require an artery-opening procedure during the follow-up period.
  • If women aged 55 and younger had moderate or severe depression, they were 2.45 times more likely to die from any cause during the follow-up period.
  • In older women and men, depression symptoms did not predict the presence of heart disease.

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