According to a large-scale study in Sweden, people who have been diagnosed with depression, especially younger patients between 25 and 50 years of age, are at increased risk of developing Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) later in life. Even after accounting for socioeconomic status and gender, the risk was greatest for those diagnosed before 40.
In an article published in the December issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers from the Karolinska Institute, Center for Family and Community Medicine, Huddinge, Sweden, examined the complete hospital discharge records for all patients in Sweden from 1987 to 2001. After identifying a total of 44,826 cases of first hospital admissions for depression (19,620 men and 25,206 women) in the Swedish family coronary heart disease database, they found that 1,916 developed CHD. By combining these records with an extensive registry of Swedish residents, risk estimates by age, gender, geographic region and socioeconomic status could be calculated.
Across all age and gender groups, patients diagnosed with depression were about 1.5 times more likely to develop CHD than patients with no diagnosis of depression. In the youngest age group, 25 to 39, the risk ratio was about 3.
Kristina Sundquist, MD, PhD, writes "The present study showed that young to middle aged people hospitalized for depression had a high risk of developing CHD. Primary healthcare teams meet patients with depression, and it is important that they treat depression as an additional individual and independent CHD risk factor." She continues, "Patients with clinical depression should be given not only short-term treatment, but also maintenance therapy to prevent relapses and recurrences of depression."