Estrogen may protect against depression after heart attack

August 9, 2018, American Physiological Society
Estradiol, the major estrogen sex hormone in humans and a widely used medication. Credit: Public Domain

Estrogen may protect against heart failure-related depression by preventing the production of inflammation-causing chemicals in the brain. The study is published ahead of print in the American Journal of Physiology—Heart and Circulatory Physiology.

Research suggests that people with failure—including those who survive heart attacks—are two to three times more likely to suffer from depression than the general population. The reason for heart failure-related depression is thought to be increased inflammation in the brain. Previous studies have also found that post-menopausal women with heart disease have a greater risk of depression than younger women and men of all ages.

Researchers from the University of Ottawa Heart Institute and Brain and Mind Institute in Canada studied a rat model of heart failure after . Adult female without ovaries—mimicking menopause—were compared to adult males and adult females with ovaries. Half of the "menopausal" rats received estrogen supplements while the other half did not. Sex-matched rats without heart failure served as controls. The animals were given several standardized tests to assess depression-like behavior, learning, memory and the ability to experience pleasure. The researchers also took blood samples to measure inflammation levels in the brain (neuroinflammation).

The male rats, but not the female rats, with heart failure showed signs of depression and compared to their controls. In contrast, the menopausal females displayed higher rates of depression-like behavior than all of the males studied. However, the group receiving estrogen showed no depression—their levels were on par with the control females with ovaries—and no increase in inflammation in areas involved in mood and pleasure.

"Our findings demonstrate that sex and estrogens influence neuroinflammation and -like behavior in rats with [heart failure] post [heart attack]," the researchers wrote. "Understanding the mechanisms contributing to these sex-specific and estrogen-dependent responses may contribute to new therapies that may be sex-specific."

Explore further: In patients with heart failure, anxiety and depression linked to worse outcomes

More information: Fatimah Najjar et al, Sex Differences in Depression-Like Behavior and Neuroinflammation in Rats Post MI: Role of Estrogens, American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology (2018). DOI: 10.1152/ajpheart.00615.2017

Related Stories

In patients with heart failure, anxiety and depression linked to worse outcomes

July 6, 2018
Symptoms of depression and anxiety are present in about one-third of patients with heart failure - and these patients are at higher risk of progressive heart disease and other adverse outcomes, according to a review and update ...

Death rates from heart failure higher for women than men

July 16, 2018
Death rates from heart failure are higher for women than men, and hospitalization rates have increased in women while declining in men, found a study from the University of Ottawa Heart Institute published in CMAJ (Canadian ...

Sex, drugs, and heart failure

June 22, 2018
Heart failure is almost as common in women as men, but its characteristics vary by sex. A new review summarizes the current state of sex-sensitive issues related to heart failure drugs included in treatment guidelines, and ...

Antidepressant does not reduce hospitalization, death for HF patients with depression

June 28, 2016
In a study appearing in the June 28 issue of JAMA, Christiane E. Angermann, M.D., of University Hospital Wurzburg, Germany, and colleagues examined whether 24 months of treatment with the antidepressant escitalopram would ...

Sex hormone levels may affect heart disease risk in post-menopausal women

May 28, 2018
In post-menopausal women, having a higher blood level of a male hormone (testosterone) and a higher ratio of the male-type to-female type (estrogen) of hormones is associated with a higher risk of heart disease later in life, ...

No, depression won't literally break your heart (but have a heart check anyway)

September 25, 2017
Some people say depression leads to a broken heart. It's a catchy expression, but is it really true?

Recommended for you

Neonatal pig hearts can heal from heart attack

August 15, 2018
While pigs still cannot fly, researchers have discovered that the hearts of newborn piglets do have one remarkable ability. They can almost completely heal themselves after experimental heart attacks.

Genomic autopsy can help solve unexplained cardiac death

August 15, 2018
Molecular autopsies can reveal genetic risk factors in young people who unexpectedly die, but proper interpretation of the results can be challenging, according to a recent study published in Circulation.

Fifty percent of cardiovascular patients suffer from multiple diseases

August 15, 2018
New research led by The University of Western Australia has revealed that one in two patients admitted to hospital with a cardiovascular disease is suffering from multiple chronic medical conditions which required complex ...

Innovative triple pill significantly lowers blood pressure, study finds

August 14, 2018
A new low dose three in one pill to treat hypertension could transform the way high blood pressure is treated around the world.

Drug repurposing study sheds light on heart disease risk

August 14, 2018
A team led by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital has developed a computational technique to reveal the unknown side effects—both good and bad—of hundreds of drugs. That knowledge could help pharmacologists discover ...

Rethinking the stroke rule 'time is brain'

August 13, 2018
In 1993, neurologist Camilo R. Gomez, MD, coined a phrase that for a quarter century has been a fundamental rule of stroke care: "Time is brain!"

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.