Study links depression to stroke and heart disease
Depressed African Americans may be at increased risk for heart disease and stroke, according to a new study.
The study, based on the ongoing Jackson Heart Study in Jackson, Mississippi, looked at data from more than 3,300 blacks between the ages of 21 and 94 who were screened for depression. None of the participants had a history of heart attack or stroke.
At the start of the study more than 22 percent of the participants suffered from major depression, and, over the course of a decade, they had a higher risk of heart disease (5.6 percent vs. 3.6 percent) and stroke (3.7 percent vs. 2.6 percent) than those without depression.
Study participants with depression were more likely to be women, have chronic health problems, lead sedentary lifestyles, have lower incomes, smoke and have a higher rates of obesity.
Though the study found only an association between depression and the risk of heart ailments in blacks, researchers say the results point out the need for better mental health treatment in this community.
“African Americans have higher rates of severe depression, yet lower rates of treatment compared with white populations,” said lead researcher Emily O’Brien, a medical instructor at Duke University’s Clinical Research Institute, in Durham, North Carolina. “We need better communication between providers and patients to support early screening and shared decision-making to reduce the rate of depression in this population.”