Almost one in five fatal heart attacks 'caused by mental health condition'

New research reveals depression has a life-threatening impact on the heart. Photo / 123rf
New research reveals depression has a life-threatening impact on the heart. Photo / 123rf

Depression is just as dangerous for your heart as obesity and high blood pressure, new research has revealed.

New data from a 10-year study show depression causes 15 per cent of cardiac arrests.

That is just shy of the 21 per cent of heart attacks caused by obesity, and more than the 8.4 per cent caused by high blood pressure, the Daily Mail reports.

Experts warn the findings are of vital importance since depression affects 350 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation.

"There is little doubt that depression is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases," lead author Professor Karl-Heniz Ladwig, from the Technical University of Munich, said.

"The question now is, what is the relationship between depression and other risk factors like tobacco smoke, high cholesterol levels, obesity or hypertension?

"How big a role does each factor play?"

To assess the risks, Dr Ladwig's team analysed data from 3,428 male patients aged between 45 and 74 years old for 10 years.

They assessed the impact of depression on the heart, comparing it with the four most common risk factors: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and obesity.

Over the period of the study, 557 people died - 269 of them from heart disease.

Their results showed depression was the root cause for 15 per cent of deaths.

Meanwhile high blood pressure and smoking were linked caused between 8.4 per cent and 21.4 per cent of heart diseases related deaths.

"Our data show that depression has a medium effect size within the range of major, non-congenital risk factors for cardiovascular diseases," Professor Ladwig said.

"In high risk patients, the diagnostic investigation of co-morbid depression should be standard. This could be registered with simple means."

- Daily Mail

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