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Women, Heart Disease, and Depression

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Heart Disease related image Photo: Getty Images

Most of us are probably familiar with most of the traditional risk factors for heart disease such as age, obesity, family history, high blood pressure, diabetes, or smoking. What you may not realize is that there other conditions that may also have a profound impact on your heart health, like the risk of heart attack, and even death from a cardiac event.

Depression is a non-traditional symptom which is rapidly becoming recognized as a significant risk factor for heart disease -- especially for women.

Can depression really impact your hearth health? It appears that the answer is unequivocally “yes”. Depression, even a mild case, as well as mental stress and depressive symptoms, have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

Unfortunately, women fare much worse than men when it comes to the impact of depression on heart health. According to WomenHeart.org, not only is depression more common in women than men, but women who suffer from depression have a risk of heart disease which is two to three times greater than their non-depressed female counterparts.

This increased risk in women was found to be true regardless of other extended factors such as economic status or ethnicity. Depression in women has also been linked to an increase risk of fatal heart attack and sudden cardiac death.

Researchers now believe that not only does depression have a negative impact on a woman’s heart health, but that it is particularly dangerous for young women. In a study led by Amit Shah, MD, researchers examined the date of more the 7600 participants of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey –III, or NHANES-III.

The data examined was limited to participants between the ages of 17 and 39 years and was specifically focused on examining depression as a risk factor for heart disease in young people.

Their findings indicate that the impact of depression on young women is much worse than previously thought. Researchers found that a history of depression, including suicide attempts, increased the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by a factor of three. In contrast, depression only increased the risk for men by 2.4 times.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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