Researchers find missing link between depression and heart ailments

Researchers find missing link between depression and heart ailments

Depression and heart diseases are a two-way street. These are two common conditions and an individual may be afflicted with both the conditions together. In effect, people struggling with a heart disorder are twice more likely to suffer from depression as compared to the general population. On the other hand, depressed people also face a heightened risk of developing a heart disease.

While depression is one of the most common mental health issues in the U.S., heart ailments are also becoming one of the key reasons contributing to several fatalities not only here but worldwide. A review of the previously conducted research studies revealed that individuals with heart ailments are more susceptible to depression and vice versa. Also, individuals who suffer from both depression and heart ailments are more likely to lose their lives due to the latter, as compared to those individuals suffering only from heart ailments. In case an individual is severely depressed, there are higher chances of them either developing a heart ailment or dying from one.

However, scientists were not able to find out the exact mechanisms behind this association. But, researchers from the University of Cambridge recently revealed the missing link between depression and heart ailments. The study, led by Dr. Golam Khandaker, revealed that stress-induced inflammation may be the missing link that explains the close connection between mental and heart health. The study was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Genetic predisposition missing for depression and cardiovascular risks

The team of researchers analyzed data of around 370,000 individuals in the age group of 40 to 69 extracted from the UK Biobank database. The researchers started with the hypothesis that possessing a family history of heart ailments increased the risk of depression. They were able to confirm this and also suggested that individuals who had lost a parent due to heart ailment were 20 percent more susceptible to depression.

The second hypothesis that the researchers tested was whether genes had any role to play in this connection between heart ailments and depression. They calculated the genetic risk score for heart ailments and found no connection between an individual’s genetic tendency and the likelihood of them developing heart ailments and being susceptible to depression.

Since they found no common genetic predisposition, the researchers wondered if any kind of environmental factors posed a risk of developing to both of these conditions. In order to find this out, they examined 15 biological indicators that may increase the risk of heart disease with the help of a statistical tool known as Mendelian randomization.

Three biomarkers increased risk for depression and heart disease

The analysis of these 15 biomarkers revealed that only 3 of them were responsible for increasing the risk of heart disease and depression. These included triglycerides, IL-6, and CRP, the proteins related to inflammation in the body. The human body produces the aforementioned inflammation proteins as a response to certain physiological factors like infections or other lifestyle-related reasons like drinking, smoking, physical inactivity, and response to psychological stress.

During the analysis, the researchers observed that high inflammation biomarkers were often present in treatment-resistant depression cases. Also, high levels of inflammation proteins (IL-6 and CRP) often depicted acute depressive episodes in people. Previously conducted research had also confirmed that individuals with high levels of inflammation proteins in their body were more susceptible to depression.

Inflammation may be the missing link

Considering the mentioned facts, Dr. Khandaker said that there is a possibility that inflammation could be a shared mechanism for both heart ailments and depression, which tend to manifest as two varied conditions in two different organs, that is the brain and the heart. However, he added that more research is needed to establish this fact and the role of triglycerides in depression needs to be further understood.

Dr. Burgess added that although they did not know exactly what kind of shared mechanism existed between these two conditions, yet they now have enough clues to work towards the involvement of the human immune system.

Seeking help for depression

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), nearly 6.9 percent adults had at least one depressive episode last year. Depression is a medical condition that calls for immediate treatment intervention. A comprehensive depression treatment plan, coupled with therapies, self-care, and support, can effectively help manage depression.

If you or a loved one is exhibiting depressive symptoms, seek professional help immediately. Get in touch with the Texas Depression Treatment Help that assists in accessing the best depression treatment centers in Texas that specialize in delivering evidence-based intervention plans. Call our 24/7 helpline number (866) 827-0282 or chat online to know more about Texas depression treatment centers.