Home Health Depression Increases Heart Disease Risk, Especially in Women, Study Finds

Depression Increases Heart Disease Risk, Especially in Women, Study Finds


A recent study published in JACC: Asia reveals that both men and women with depression face a heightened risk of heart disease, but this risk may be over 50 percent higher in women compared to men. Researchers discovered that women previously diagnosed with depression were more prone to heart-related issues such as heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, chest pain, and atrial fibrillation, compared to men with a history of depression.

Dr. Hidehiro Kaneko, the corresponding author of the study and an assistant professor at the University of Tokyo, emphasized the importance of identifying sex-specific factors in the relationship between depression and cardiovascular outcomes. Understanding these factors could aid in the development of targeted prevention strategies for both men and women, ultimately leading to improved heart disease outcomes.

However, Dr. Sharonne Hayes, a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic, notes some differences between the study’s population and the U.S. population, which could impact the generalizability of the findings. Despite this, she acknowledges that depression and heart disease share a bidirectional relationship, with depression exacerbating the outcomes of heart disease and vice versa.

The study, conducted using a Japanese insurance claims database, included over four million participants. It revealed that individuals with a previous depression diagnosis had a 39 percent higher risk of heart disease in men and a 64 percent higher risk in women. Furthermore, women with depression faced a greater risk of various heart events compared to men with depression.

Possible explanations for these differences include the severity of depression experienced by women and hormonal transitions unique to women, such as pregnancy and menopause. Behavioral disparities, such as physical activity levels and healthcare-seeking behaviors, may also contribute to variations in heart disease risk between men and women.

Despite nearly identical depression prevalence rates between men and women in the study, it’s essential for women to recognize past depression as a potential risk factor for heart disease. Dr. Hayes suggests that women treat past depression similarly to family history or other traditional risk factors for heart disease and prioritize lifestyle modifications and medical interventions to mitigate their risk.

Lastly, women should remain vigilant for heart attack symptoms and seek medical attention promptly if experiencing chest discomfort, breathlessness, or other concerning symptoms. Additionally, those experiencing symptoms of depression should consult with their healthcare provider to receive appropriate treatment and support.