APR 10, 2024 9:00 AM PDT

Mental Health May Predict Heart Health for Young Women

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

New research presented at the American College of Cardiology's Annual Scientific Session suggests that the presence of anxiety or depression in young and middle-aged women may raise their risk of developing cardiovascular risk factors.

The study included data from over 71,000 participants in the Mass General Brigham Biobank. At the start of the study, participants did not have heart disease, and those who developed anxiety or depression during the study were excluded. Participants were followed-up with for an average of 10 years and monitored for the development of cardiovascular risk factors including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. The goal of the study was to see how a prior history of anxiety or depression affected the development of cardiovascular risk factors.

The results showed that people in the study who had a history of depression or anxiety before the study began were 55% more likely to develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and/or diabetes compared to those who did not have a history of anxiety or depression. For women under age 50 with a history of anxiety or depression, the risk of developing one or more cardiovascular risk factor was nearly doubled. This impact may have been due to increases in stress-related neural activity in this group, which can negatively impact the heart and cardiovascular risk factors.

While younger women are generally thought to be a low-risk group in terms of heart disease, these results suggest that younger women should be monitored for the development of cardiovascular risk factors, according to the authors of the study. Younger women tend to have a lower risk of developing heart disease due to the protective effects of estrogen, but young women with anxiety or depression have about the same risk of heart disease as men in the same age group.

Sources: ACC, Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
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