Depression and risk of heart disease

by Heather Gilmour

Abstract
Keywords
Findings
Authors
Acknowledgements
Why is this study important?
What else is known on this topic?
What does this study add?

Abstract

Objective

A population-based sample of 4,948 men and women aged 40 or older who did not have heart disease in 1994/1995 were followed to 2006/2007 to determine if depression was associated with increased risk of heart disease diagnosis or death.

Data sources

Data from seven cycles of the National Population Health Survey (NPHS), 1994/1995 through 2006/2007, were used for longitudinal analysis.  Prevalence estimates of heart disease and depression in the population aged 40 years or older were based on the 2002 Canadian Community Health Survey 1.2: Mental Health and Well-being. 

Analytical techniques

The association between depression and heart disease was analyzed with separate proportional hazards models for men and women, adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics and heart disease risk factors.  

Main results

Among people aged 40 or older and free of heart disease in 1994/1995, 19% of men and 15% of women had developed or died from heart disease by 2006/2007. The risk of heart disease was significantly higher for women who had depression, but not for men. When heart disease events occurring within two years of baseline were removed, depression was not significantly associated with heart disease risk among women or men.

Keywords

death, major depressive disorder, longitudinal studies, National Population Health Survey (NPHS), proportional hazards models, risk factors

Findings

Both heart disease and depression are associated with a considerable health burden. Worldwide, coronary heart disease is the second leading cause of disability for men and the third leading cause for women; depression is the fourth leading cause of disability among men and the leading cause among women. [Full text]

Authors

Heather Gilmour (613-951-2114; Heather.Gilmour@statcan.gc.ca) is with the Health Information and Research Division at Statistics Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0T6.

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Marc Joncas for his advice on statistical methods.

Why is this study important?

  • From a public health and disease prevention perspective, it is important to understand the role of depression as a potential risk factor for heart disease.

What else is known on this topic?

  • The majority of population-based studies have found that depression is associated with increased risk of incident heart disease in an initially healthy population.  However, some results have been  inconsistent.

What does this study add?

  • For the first time, national population-based data are used to investigate the association between depression and incident heart disease in Canada.  When other risk factors were controlled, depression was significantly associated with increased risk of heart disease among women, but not among men.