Facebook Pixel

Depression: It Can Harm a Woman's Heart

By Expert
Rate This

It’s been a while since researchers discovered depression is a key predictor of heart disease — even of not surviving a heart attack. More and more, though, studies are revealing that depression can be a precursor to coronary heart disease (CHD)— especially for women. We know this because researchers at Columbia University recently reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that depression may actually lead to heart disease, as well as increase the odds of a heart attack in women with existing CHD.

Underlying causes

The most recent study to link depression and heart disease is based on the Nurses’ Health Study which tracked 63,000 women between 1992-2004. Though none had signs of heart disease at the start of the study, about 8% were diagnosed with serious depression. It was these women who were more than twice as likely to die suddenly from a heart attack.

A growing body of investigative work is exposing the underlying causes of the depression-heart disease link: Some point to poor adherence to medical regimens (such as diabetics who are non-compliant with home glucose monitoring), alterations in hormone levels, and increased risk for arrhythmia, while others suggest that obesity, tobacco use, and physical inactivity play key roles.

Lifestyle lessons

While causes may vary, the most proactive step you can take, both to defeat depression and to halt heart disease, is to make the lifestyle changes your emotions and heart need to be balanced and healthy. This means: eating optimally, de-stressing, exercising regularly, and integrating social support into your life. In the next article, I’ll tell you more about how foods you choose can combat depression, while EmpowHer expert, Larry Scherwitz, PhD (who is also my husband), will give you the lifestyle insights you need to take charge of this emerging risk factor for heart disease.

Copyright © 2009 by Deborah Kesten, MPH

Deborah Kesten, MPH, and Larry Scherwitz, PhD, are international lifestyle and health researchers and Certified Wellness and Cardiac coaches.

Add a Comment2 Comments

Good work , tips and advice are really great. Here is another great site on heart health site, http://www.bizymoms.com/cares/heart_health/index.html . I would suggest you go and have a look at their articles and resources. Stay Healthy!

March 20, 2009 - 2:55am

If you think that you or someone close to you might be suffering from depression, please take a look at Empowher's depression page, which includes an encyclopedia entry that explains depression and its symptoms, causes and treatments, as well as the questions we've been asked about it over time:


March 16, 2009 - 8:13am
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

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.


Get Email Updates

Related Checklists

Depression Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!