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Stress + Depression = Deadly Combo in Heart Disease

Significant risk of heart attack or death in the short term

WEDNESDAY, March 11, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Coronary heart disease, depression, and stress can be a deadly combination, according to a new study published online March 10 in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Carmela Alcantara, Ph.D., an associate research scientist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues collected data on 4,487 coronary heart disease patients, aged 45 and older, enrolled in the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke study. Participants were interviewed in their homes and asked how often during the past week they felt depressed, lonely or sad, or had crying spells. They were also asked how often they felt unable to control important things in their lives, felt overwhelmed, felt confidence in their ability to handle personal problems, and felt things were going their way during the past month.

Over an average six years of follow-up, 1,337 participants died or had a myocardial infarction, the researchers found. The risk was 48 percent higher for those with stress and serious depression than those not feeling emotionally drained, but only for the first 2.5 years.

“The combination of high stress and high depression symptoms may be particularly harmful for adults with heart disease during an early vulnerability period,” Alcantara told HealthDay. Behavioral treatments, perhaps including therapy and exercise, might reduce their odds for death or heart attack in the near future, she added.

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