Middle-aged women with depression at biggest risk of heart attack

Young and middle-aged women with depression are more likely than men or older women to die prematurely or suffer a heart attack, new research reveals.

Depression sufferers who are aged 55 and younger are twice as likely to have a heart attack or die early compared with those without the condition, according to researchers at the Emory University in Atlanta. They say that doctors should be aware of the special link that seems to exist between women with depression and heart problems.

The severity of the depression has a big impact too, as the researchers found that for every one-point increase in symptoms of the condition, the risk of heart disease rises by seven per cent, reports dailymail.co.uk.

Dr Amit Shah, assistant professor of epidemiology at Emory University and one of the study's authors, says the research could explain why women are more likely than men to die following a heart attack.

"One of the possibilities is that hormonal and/or neurological imbalances occurring in the brains of women who are moderately or severely depressed can have adverse effects on the cardiovascular system," he explains. "The other possibility is inflammation, which has been measured at higher amount in people with depression and is a core risk factor for heart disease."

He adds that more research needs to be carried out into the links between inflammation and depression to find out whether medications for the former will reduce the later, reports yahoo.com.