A recent study suggests that depression may increase the risk of heart failure. Scientists looked at nearly 63,000 people in Norway who underwent physical and mental health assessments. Over the course of 11 years, close to 1,500 of the participants developed heart failure. Compared to people with symptoms of depression, those with mild symptoms were five percent more likely to develop heart failure, and those with moderate to severe symptoms had a 40 percent increased risk.
Researchers suggest that depressive symptoms may increase the chances of developing heart failure and the more severe the symptoms are, the greater the risk. Because people with depression often lead less healthy lifestyles, the researchers adjusted for factors such as obesity and smoking that could cause both depression and heart failure. Researchers were then confident that these factors did not cause the association.
In people with heart failure, the heart is unable to pump enough blood through the body. It is important to note that the study does not prove that depression causes the condition, only that the two are often linked. Depression triggers stress hormones. If you’re stressed, you can often feel your pulse increase as well as your rate of breath. This is a result of stress hormones being released. These same hormones also induce inflammation and plaque build-up in the arteries, which may accelerate heart disease.
If you are someone who suffers from depression or are experiencing the early symptoms of depression, be sure to speak to your physician. In its early stages, depression can be easily treated. During the winter months and holiday season, chances of depression increase due to fewer daylight hours and added stress. Look for these five warning signs:
- Loss of interest
- Chronic pain
Being proactive can make a difference in your mental health as well your physical health. Heart disease is still the number one killer in the United States and as this study suggests, if your mental health is suffering, you could be at an increased risk of heart failure.