Depression Raises Men's Risk of Heart Problems

AUGUST 01, 2005

A study reported in Circulation states that depression may raise the risk of heart disease in men. The study included nearly 600 men and found that men with depression were about 50% more likely to develop coronary heart disease (CHD) within 5 years than men without depression. This study bolsters prior observational studies that have linked depression with heart disease. It found that depressed men tended to have high blood levels of proinflammatory compounds strongly associated with increased cardiovascular risk. Researchers said that this is the first study that investigated the contribution of both depression and inflammatory markers to CHD, stating that previous reports investigating the connection had produced conflicting results.

This study, they said, investigated a wide range of inflammatory markers. They noted that the average blood level of the marker Creactive protein was 46% higher in depressed men than in nondepressed men. The study also found that levels of the inflammatory markers interleukin-6 and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM- 1) were an average of 16% and 10% higher, respectively, in depressed men. Researchers say this is the first study to identify a relation between ICAM-1 and depression in otherwise healthy men. It suggests that depression is associated with dysfunction of the endothelium—a layer of cells that line artery walls—in people otherwise free of CHD.