TUESDAY, May 3, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Depression may raise heart disease risks in men, according to a study in the new issue of the journal Circulation.
The study of nearly 600 men in Ireland and France found that men with depression were about 50 percent more likely to develop coronary heart disease (CHD) within five years than other men.
Previous observational studies have linked depression with heart disease. This study bolsters that research, finding that depressed men tended to have high blood levels of pro-inflammatory compounds strongly associated with increased cardiovascular risk.
"This is the first study investigating the respective contribution to coronary heart disease of depression and inflammatory markers," study lead author Dr. Jean P. Empana, epidemiology department at Paul Brousse Hospital in Villejuif, France, said in a prepared statement. "Previous reports investigating the association between depression and individual inflammatory markers have produced conflicting results. In this study, we investigated a wide range of inflammatory markers," he added.
Empana's team report that the average blood level of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein was 46 percent higher in depressed men than in other men. The study also found that levels of the inflammatory markers interleukin-6 and adhesion cellular molecule-1 (ICAM-1) were an average of 16 percent and 10 percent higher, respectively, in depressed men.
Empana said this is the first study to identify an association between ICAM-1 and depression in otherwise healthy people. This suggests that depression is associated with dysfunction of the endothelium -- a layer of cells that line artery walls -- in people otherwise free of coronary heart disease. This is important because endothelial dysfunction is believed to be a major first step in the development of atherosclerosis (so-called hardening of the arteries), Empana explained.
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about depression and heart disease.