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Somatic Depression Symptoms Show Heart Risk Link

Somatic symptoms more strongly linked to cardio events in stable CHD than cognitive symptoms

TUESDAY, Aug. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Somatic symptoms of depression appear to more strongly predict cardiovascular events than cognitive depressive symptoms in individuals with stable coronary heart disease (CHD), according to research published in the Sept. 7 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Petra W. Hoen, of the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands, and colleagues analyzed data from 1,019 individuals, mostly men and with a mean age of 67, with stable CHD. The Patient Health Questionnaire was used to determine the presence of nine depressive symptoms, which were divided into cognitive symptoms (e.g., concentration problems) or somatic symptoms (e.g., fatigue, appetite problems).

The researchers found that each somatic symptom was related to a 14 percent higher risk of cardiovascular events such as myocardial infarction and stroke after adjustment for a number of variables. Fatigue (hazard ratio [HR], 1.34; P = 0.01), appetite problems (HR, 1.46; P = 0.005), and sleeping problems (HR, 1.26; P = 0.05) had the strongest associations with cardiovascular events. Cognitive symptoms, however, were not significantly associated with cardiovascular events.

"We found that somatic symptoms of depression were responsible for the increased risk for cardiovascular events in patients with stable CHD," the authors conclude. "The results of this study indicate the need for future research directed at the identification of the underlying pathophysiological processes by which somatic depressive symptoms contribute to prognosis in patients with CHD and to the testing of interventions to alleviate the associated risk."

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