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Even Mild Depression, Anxiety Hurts the Heart: Study
Date:8/1/2012

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, July 31 (HealthDay News) -- Even mild depression or anxiety may raise your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and other causes, according to British researchers.

And the greater the level of psychological distress, the higher the odds of death from heart disease, the researchers say.

"The fact that an increased risk of mortality was evident, even at low levels of psychological distress, should prompt research into whether treatment of these very common, minor symptoms can reduce this increased risk of death," said lead researcher Tom Russ, a clinical research fellow at the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Center of the University of Edinburgh.

For the study, published online July 31 in BMJ, Russ and colleagues analyzed 10 studies of men and women enrolled in the Health Survey for England from 1994 to 2004. Data on more than 68,000 adults aged 35 and older was included overall.

Each study looked for connections between chronic psychological distress and the risk of dying from heart disease and other causes, including cancer.

Pooling data in this way is called a meta-analysis. In such a study, researchers look for common patterns across several studies.

Over eight years' follow-up, the researchers found even very mild depression or anxiety -- subclinical levels -- raised the risk of all-cause death, including cardiovascular disease, by 20 percent. Looking specifically at death from heart disease, mild psychological distress raised this risk 29 percent, the study found.

For the highest level of depression or anxiety, the risk of all-cause death rose 94 percent, the researchers found.

Risk of death from cancer was increased 9 percent in cases of very severe depression or anxiety, the investigators found. Lower levels of psychological distress were not associated with increased risk of cancer death.

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