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IUPUI Study: Depression A Risk Factor For Heart Disease

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Photo: U.S. Army Korea

Some patients who received antidepressants and psychotherapy in an IUPUI study had a lower risk of stroke and heart attack for the next eight years.

Treating depression could help prevent heart disease, according to new research from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

IUPUI psychology professor Jesse Stewart says previous research has indicated depression is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

But treating the depression didn’t help once the patient already had CVD. So Stewart and another researcher decided to try treating depression before the onset of heart disease.

Stewart says it may seem odd to connect a psychological disease with a physical one, but there are many ways depression links itself to the body.

“So one way depression might get inside the body is through the immune system,” Stewart says. “Another set of pathways involves behavioral factors. So depressed patients are more likely to be smokers are less physically active and tend to be less adherent to medications.”

The study involved 235 elderly, clinically depressed patients. Some of the patients received antidepressants and psychotherapy, and those patients had lower risk of stroke and heart attack for the next eight years.

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