Meneghini noted there are many diabetics with undiagnosed depression. "I am willing to bet that there are quite a number of patients with diabetes and depression walking around without a clear diagnosis."
Patients and doctors need to be more aware that depression is an issue, Meneghini added.
For the study, Hu's team collected data on 78,282 women who were aged 54 to 79 in 2000 and who were participants in the Nurses' Health Study.
Over six years of follow-up, 4,654 women died, including 979 who died of cardiovascular disease, the investigators found.
Women who had diabetes had about a 35 percent increased risk of dying, and those with depression had about a 44 percent increased risk, compared with women with neither condition, the researchers calculated.
Those with both conditions had about twice the risk of dying, the study authors found.
When Hu's team looked only at deaths from heart disease, they found that women with diabetes had a 67 percent increased risk of dying and those with depression had a 37 percent increased risk of death. But women who had both diabetes and depression had a 2.7-fold increased risk of dying from heart disease, the researchers noted.
In the United States, some 15 million people suffer from depression and 23.5 million have diabetes, the researchers say. Up to one-fourth of people with diabetes also experience depression, which is nearly twice as many as among people who don't have diabetes, they added.
"The combination of diabetes and depression needs to be addressed," Meneghini concluded. He added that patients need to tell their doctors if they are feeling depressed, and doctors also need to be on the lookout for signs of depression in their diabetic patients.
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