PROVIDENCE, RI Individuals with heart disease are twice as likely to suffer from depression as the general population, an association the medical community has largely been unable to explain. Now, a new study by researchers at The Miriam Hospital, in conjunction with The Montral Heart Institute, University of Montral and McGill University, reveals there may be genetic variations that contribute to depression in heart disease patients.
According to the study, published in the April issue of the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics, the genes are related to the vascular system, suggesting that vascular health which includes the body's network of blood vessels, arteries and veins may be a predictor of depression in individuals with heart disease. This is the first large-scale genetic study of depressive symptoms in cardiac patients.
"Depression can significantly impact quality of life for heart disease patients and can increase the risk for additional cardiac events or even death," said lead author Jeanne M. McCaffery, PhD, of The Miriam Hospital's Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center. "Although it's too early to begin to speculate about the possible clinical implications of these findings, it's intriguing to think that there may be a genetic explanation as to why people with heart disease are more susceptible to depression."
Researchers say several mechanisms have been suggested to account for the greater prevalence of depression among cardiac patients, including the stress of a poor prognosis and systemic inflammation, although little attention has been paid to date about the possibility of a genetic cause. According to previous studies, approximately 15 to 20 percent of heart disease patients experience depression, with the highest rates seen among those who recently experienced a cardiac event. In contrast, depression affects about seven percent of the general population in the Unit
|Contact: Jessica Collins Grimes|