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Study helps explain link between depression and cardiovascular disease

Researchers from King’s College London have studied the link between depression and hardening of the arteries using UK Biobank data on a sample of 124,445 adults.

Depression and arterial stiffness
The study explored the association between depression and arterial stiffness and quantified the role that a cluster of conditions known as metabolic syndrome play in this relationship

Published in JAMA Psychiatry, the study showed a clear association between depression and arterial stiffness and quantified the role that a cluster of conditions known as metabolic syndrome play in this relationship. Metabolic syndrome includes symptoms such as high blood pressure, unhealthy waist circumference and high glucose levels.

People with a history of depression are at an increased risk of major cardiovascular events such as strokes and heart attacks. Arterial stiffness (AS) or hardening of the arteries is the usual cause of cardiovascular disease and there is growing evidence that links depression to AS. A better understanding of what influences the association between AS and depression could inform treatments or interventions to help prevent cardiovascular events in people with a diagnosis of depression.

 

People with depression are at a high risk of cardiovascular disease and this study provides important insight to inform possible approaches that could potentially help lower this risk. By showing that metabolic symptoms such as unhealthy waist circumference and inflammatory processes play a role in the relationship between depression and arterial stiffness, the study highlights that these could be important aspects to look for and to target in interventions.– First author Dr Alex Dregan from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London

From the 124,445 adults that were studied, 8% of the participants (10,304) had depression. The study analysed the relationship between depression and arterial stiffness and results showed that nearly one third (29%) of the association between the two is mediated by the metabolic syndrome. The metabolic symptom that contributed the most to the association was unhealthy waist circumference.

Researchers also studied whether inflammation influenced the relationship by analysing the level of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood and found that, together with metabolic syndrome, the level of CRP explained 37% of the association between arterial stiffness and depression.

The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry and analysed data from 124,445 participants aged 40 to 70 years from the United Kingdom (UK) Biobank study

‘Contribution of depression to arterial stiffness in the UK Biobank population study: a causal mediation approach’ by Dregan, A. et al, JAMA Psychiatry