Is depression a risk factor for heart disease?

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Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
The relationship between depression and heart disease is a two-way street. Not only does depression appear to promote heart disease, but it can also result from a heart attack. Studies suggest that people who are depressed are about twice as likely to develop coronary artery disease, and that people who already have heart disease are three times as likely to be depressed as others. About one in five people become depressed after having a heart attack. Finally, depression is an independent risk factor for a subsequent heart attack in people who've already had one. This may be in part because people who are depressed are less likely to take proper care of themselves -- they might continue to smoke, fail to take their medications regularly, or not exercise enough.

Whether you've had a heart attack or not, if you feel depressed, tell your doctor. Depression can be treated successfully with antidepressants, psychotherapy, or both. Treating depression can make you feel better and decrease your heart attack risk.
Major depressive disorder is a risk factor in the development of incident coronary heart disease events in healthy patients and for adverse cardiovascular outcomes in patients with established heart disease. For people with heart disease, depression can increase the risk of an adverse cardiac event such as a heart attack or blood clots. For people who do not have heart disease, depression can also increase the risk of a heart attack and development of coronary artery disease.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.