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Study shows depression in younger women linked to higher risk of death from heart disease

An Emory University study, published June 19th in the Journal of the American Heart Association, shows women age 55 and younger are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack, die or require artery-opening procedures if they are moderately or severely depressed.


The research, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Emory Heart & Vascular Center, also showed that women in this age group are at greater risk than men and older women to suffer from depression — possibly a “hidden” risk factor that helps explain why more women die after a heart attack.

“Women in this age group are also more likely to have depression, so this may be one of the ‘hidden’ risk factors that can help explain why women die at a disproportionately higher rate than men after a heart attack,” says study author Amit J. Shah, MD, assistant professor of epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH), and assistant professor of medicine (cardiology), Emory University School of Medicine (SOM).

"Although the risks and benefits of routine screening for depression are still unclear, our study suggests that young women may benefit from special consideration," says senior study author Viola Vaccarino, MD, PhD, professor and Wilton Looney Chair of Epidemiology at RSPH and professor of medicine, Emory University SOM. “Unfortunately, this group has largely been understudied before.”

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