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Physical Inactivity Increases Risk of Cardiovascular Event Among Depressed Heart Disease Patients (Interview with Dr. Mary Whooley, MD)
Physical Inactivity Increases Risk of Cardiovascular Event Among Depressed Heart Disease Patients (Interview with Dr. Mary Whooley, MD)

(November 25, 2008 - Insidermedicine) Physical inactivity appears to explain why those with heart disease who have symptoms of depression are more likely to experience a cardiovascular event, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Here is some information about depression and heart disease.

•    Heart patients with depression are more likely to experience cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and blood clots.

•    Individuals who have experienced a heart attack are at increased risk for developing depression.

•    The presence of depression can make recovery from heart surgery more difficult and painful.

Researchers from the VA Medical Center in San Francisco followed over 1,000 individuals with stable heart disease for an average of nearly five years. They used a questionnaire to assess symptoms of depression in each participant at the start of the study and looked at how these symptoms were associated with cardiovascular events.

Overall, those with depressive symptoms were 50% more likely to experience a cardiovascular event, but adjusting for physical inactivity reduced this association. After adjusting for the severity of heart disease as well as the presence of other medical conditions, depressive symptoms were associated with a 31% increase in the risk of having a cardiovascular event. Taking into account physical activity, however, rendered the association insignificant. Physical inactivity in and of itself was associated with a 44% increased risk for cardiovascular events.

We had a chance to speak with Dr. Mary Whooley, the principal investigator of this study, who offered some further insight.

Today’s research suggests that lifestyle changes, particularly more exercise, can reduce or eliminate the increased risk for cardiovascular events among those with depression and heart disease.

For Insidermedicine in Depth, I'm Dr. Susan Sharma.

 
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