New evidence for link between depression and heart disease

February 19, 2013, Loyola University Health System

A Loyola University Medical Center psychiatrist is proposing a new subspecialty to diagnose and treat patients who suffer both depression and heart disease. He's calling it "Psychocardiology."

In his most recent study, Angelos Halaris, MD, PhD, and colleagues found that an inflammatory , interleukin-6, was significantly higher in the blood of 48 patients diagnosed with than it was in 20 healthy controls. Interleukin-6 has been associated with cardiovascular disease. Halaris presented findings at a joint congress of the World Psychiatric Association and International Neuropsychiatric Association in Athens, Greece. At the congress, Halaris formally proposed creation of a new Psychocardiology subspecialty.

Forty to 60 percent of heart disease patients suffer clinical depression and 30 to 50 percent of patients who suffer clinical depression are at risk of developing cardiovascular disease, Halaris said.

Stress is the key to understanding the association between depression and heart disease. Stress can lead to depression, and depression, in turn, can become stressful.

The body's immune system fights stress as it would fight a disease or infection. In response to stress, the immune system produces proteins called cytokines, including interleukin-6. Initially, this inflammatory response protects against stress. But over time, a chronic inflammatory response can lead to (hardening of the arteries) and cardiovascular disease.

It's a : depression triggers a , which leads to heart disease, which causes depression, which leads to more heart disease.

typically begins in young adults. "Treating depression expertly and vigorously in young age can help prevent cardiovascular disease later on," Halaris said.

Physicians often work in isolation, with psychiatrists , and cardiologists treating cardiovascular disease. Halaris is proposing that psychiatrists and cardiologists work together in a multidisciplinary Psychocardiology subspecialty.

A Psychocardiology subspecialty would raise awareness among physicians and the public. It would forge closer working relationships between psychiatrists and cardiologists. It would formalize multidisciplinary teams with the requisite training and expertise to enable early detection of cardiovascular disease risk in psychiatric patients and psychiatric problems in heart disease patients. And it would provide continuing education to physicians in the safe and correct use of medications in cardiac patients who have psychiatric disorders.

"It is only through the cohesive interaction of such multidisciplinary teams that we can succeed in unravelling the complex relationships among mental stress, inflammation, immune responses and depression, cardiovascular disease and stroke," Halaris said.

Explore further: Depression linked to greater risk of peripheral artery disease

Related Stories

Depression linked to greater risk of peripheral artery disease

April 20, 2012
Depression may be associated with an increased risk of arterial narrowing in the legs and pelvis, a condition known as peripheral artery disease (PAD), according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Arteriosclerosis, ...

Even mild depression, anxiety hurts the heart: study

August 1, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Even mild depression or anxiety may raise your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and other causes, according to British researchers.

Recommended for you

People with prosthetic arms less affected by common illusion

January 22, 2018
People with prosthetic arms or hands do not experience the "size-weight illusion" as strongly as other people, new research shows.

Intensive behavior therapy no better than conventional support in treating teenagers with antisocial behavior

January 19, 2018
Research led by UCL has found that intensive and costly multisystemic therapy is no better than conventional therapy in treating teenagers with moderate to severe antisocial behaviour.

Babies' babbling betters brains, language

January 18, 2018
Babies are adept at getting what they need - including an education. New research shows that babies organize mothers' verbal responses, which promotes more effective language instruction, and infant babbling is the key.

Inherited IQ can increase in early childhood

January 18, 2018
When it comes to intelligence, environment and education matter – more than we think.

College branding makes beer more salient to underage students

January 18, 2018
In recent years, major beer companies have tried to capitalize on the salience of students' university affiliations, unveiling marketing campaigns and products—such as "fan cans," store displays, and billboard ads—that ...

Modulating molecules: Study shows oxytocin helps the brain to modulate social signals

January 17, 2018
Between sights, sounds, smells and other senses, the brain is flooded with stimuli on a moment-to-moment basis. How can it sort through the flood of information to decide what is important and what can be relegated to the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.