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Doctors are finding links between depression and heart disease with alarming frequency, notes an article released by the Mayo Clinic on March 5th, 2006. Studies show that the association works both ways.|
Among those who’ve experienced one or more heart attacks, regardless or age, race, or gender, one in three of those individuals experiences major depression. That’s compared to the normal rate of one in twenty among Americans who haven’t suffered a heart attack.
However, the opposite can be true as well. According to the article, studies demonstrate that depression is an important risk factor for heart disease. Physical changes caused by depression contribute to changes in overall health, which may prompt heart disease. For example, notes the author, depression may lead to unhealthy lifestyle changes, such as poor eating habits and lack of desire for physical exercise. It may also cause abnormal heart rhythms, increased blood pressure and faster blood clotting. Cholesterol levels, insulin levels, and levels of stress hormones may also rise, contributing to factors which may cause heart attacks.
Women over 50 are especially susceptible, notes a study which demonstrates that postmenopausal women with symptoms of depression and no history of heart disease have a 50 percent greater risk of developing or dying of heart disease than women without depression.
That’s why, points out the article, treatment for both is essential as soon as symptoms are recognized. Addressing depression can help sufferers avoid dealing with the stresses of heart disease, making recovery all the more difficult. The families of heart attack survivors should be on the lookout for symptoms of depression in their loved ones, being sure to bring it to the attention of the patient’s medical team.
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