People with depression could be at greater risk of a heart attack or heart disease, a new study has found.
The study, published by an international research team led by a Charles Sturt University (CSU) medical scientist, investigated the combined effects of two major health concerns, depression and diabetes, on the incidence of heart attack.
It found that depression in people seemed to change the way heart rate is controlled, which increases the risk of heart attack, Dr Herbert Jelinek from CSU's School of Community Health said in a statement on Wednesday.
Of even more concern was that diabetes seemed to worsen the risk of cardiac arrest in people with depression, he said.
"These results have implications worldwide, particularly in countries with high rates of diabetes such as the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom," Dr Jelinek said in a statement on Wednesday.
"Importantly, anti-depression medication does not appear to lessen this risk."
He said scientists had shown that a simple electrocardiogram (ECG) test can show that a person with depression can run a higher risk of a heart attack.
This test would make it easier to assess heart attack risk in regional and rural areas around Australia.
"We are aiming to identify early changes in mental health associated with diabetes to enable better and faster intervention that addresses this very important health problem," the statement said.
The results came from research studies carried out by the Albury-based Diabetes Complications Research Initiative, which is coordinated by Dr Jelinek and researchers from the University of Sydney.