Depression And Anxiety, Even Mild Forms, Harm Heart, Study Finds

Depression and anxiety are in and of themselves conditions that negatively impact the lives of those who suffer them, but new research shows that even mild depression and anxiety could harm your cardiovascular system.

Depression and anxiety have long been linked with negative health effects, but a larger meta-analysis of ten studies reveals that the risk of mortality increases in the presence of even less intense manifestations of the conditions. The data was culled from initial studies of men and women participating in the Health Survey for England between 1994 and 2004.

Nearly 70,000 adults over the age of 35 were involved in the depression and anxiety research, and all ten of the studies sought connections between psychological stressors and risk of death from heart-related causes, cancer and a variety of other conditions.

The meta-analysis mined for patterns in the studies, looking for deaths over the eight years of follow-up included. What they found when mild depression or anxiety was involved was that risk of mortality from all causes rose 20%, and from cardiovascular causes like heart attack, the risk of death shot to 29%.

Dr. Gregg Fonarow is a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of California in Los Angeles, and he acknowledged that the study was not the first to link depression and anxiety with overall mortality risk. He explained that while treating the conditions may not necessarily reduce risk of death, there are steps those with anxiety and depression can take to mitigate the overall cardiac risk:

“For people with depression or anxiety, focusing on proven cardiovascular risk factor interventions, including maintaining healthy blood pressure, body weight, cholesterol levels, engaging in regular exercise and not smoking, may represent the best course of action to lower their cardiovascular risk.”

The depression, anxiety and cardiovascular risk study was published in the July 31st online edition of BMJ.