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Depression and Anxiety Unhealthy for the Heart

Do you suffer from depression or do you suffer from anxiety? That can have a very bad influence on your heart and blood vessels.

Researcher Adrie Seldenrijk of VU University Medical Center discovered together with the Heart Foundation that people with a depression or anxiety disorder suffer from arteriosclerosis almost three times more often than people without such a disorder. Age and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure , play no role in this.

Arterial calcification
Arteriosclerosis causes cardiovascular problems such as a heart attack and a stroke † A dangerous condition, but what mainly causes it? Seldenrijk conducted research into this; 2,115 persons with a depression or anxiety disorder and 602 persons without problems were interviewed and subjected to various tests. These test subjects, men and women aged 18 to 65, are not cardiovascular patients.

The researchers kept blood pressure in the ankle and the arm (also called the ankle-arm index) to determine whether the subjects suffered from arteriosclerosis. In persons with a depression or anxiety disorder this turned out to be the case much more often than in the 'healthy' people. Dangerous, because when you have such a disorder, the risk of a heart attack or stroke is considerably greater.

Want to know more?
The results will be published in the professional journal Journal of Psychosomatic Research in August. † The research is part of the Dutch Study into Depression and Anxiety (NESDA) and was conducted in collaboration with GGZ in Geest.