Causal link found between depression and coronary heart disease

There is strong evidence that depression is causally associated with the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), according to a new European study

The findings are based on data from the Whitehall II study, which followed more than 10,000 British civil servants for 20 years. Participants were initially assessed by a clinical examination and by responding to the 30-item General Health Questionnaire. Follow up occurred every two or three years, including for major cardiac events and stroke; depression was measured at six points in time. 

Those participants who reported depressive symptoms during at least three of the assessments had a 100 percent increase in risk for CHD. Within the study population, recurring depressive symptoms accounted for 10 percent of all CHD events.

The report supports recommendations to address depression as a step towards lowering an individual’s risk for CHD, argue the study’s authors. 

The study was published online this week in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.