Depression has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a new study out of Simon Fraser University published in Jama Psychiatry.

The study found that individuals with 4 or more depressive symptoms had a 20% increase in cardiovascular events and death. According to the press release, 1 in 5 Canadians will experience mental health problems in their lifetime and 8% will experience a major depressive event. In the United States, 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 6 youths aged 6 to 17 years experience mental health issues each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health. Due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, experts are anticipating an uptick in the number of people dealing with mental health issues.

The international study included 145,862 participants from 21 countries. According to the press release, the risk of cardiovascular disease was twice as high in urban areas, in which the majority of the population is projected to live by 2050. Additionally, the risks were more than double in men.

“The data suggest that depressive symptoms should be considered as important as traditional risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol when preventing heart disease and early death,” the press release stated.

The study lends credibility to the World Health Organization’s policy to integrate mental health care into primary care, according to the study authors. It also states that the findings underscore the greater need for awareness of the physical risks associated with depression.

A comprehensive approach is needed to tackle non-communicable disease and mental disorders if the health-related United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are to be achieved, which according to the researchers, should be a global priority.

Reference
Depression associated with greater risk of cardiovascular disease. (News Release) Burnbay, British Columbia; June 16, 2020; Science Daily; Accessed 6/17/2020