Possible Link between Depression and Coronary Heart Disease

Many studies link depression with an elevated risk of CHD and its progression. Some experts believe the connection reflects indirect effects. For example, depression can make it difficult to stick with a heart medication regimen or to commit to healthy lifestyle changes.

Another possibility is that depression has more direct effects on the heart by increasing blood pressure and blood cholesterol, promoting clot formation, inflammation and endothelial dysfunction, and reducing heart rate variability (the normal changes in heart rate that occur throughout the day).

To reduce the effects of depression on the heart, the American Heart Association now recommends that all people with CHD undergo screening for depression. In addition, don't hesitate to talk with your cardiologist if you think you might be suffering from a bout of depression.

Fortunately, like many of the other CHD risk factors, depression is a treatable condition. The available treatments include psychotherapy and antidepressant drugs. Regular physical activity also may help relieve the symptoms of depression.

Publication Review By: Gary Gerstenblith, M.D., and Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D.

Published: 03 Jul 2013

Last Modified: 03 Jul 2013