Depression In Young Women Increases Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease, Study Shows

In Education

Recent research suggests that while young women are typically considered low-risk for heart disease, certain mental health issues could elevate their risk. Specifically, anxiety and depression were found to accelerate the development of cardiovascular risk factors in this demographic.

Depression and anxiety increases cardiovascular risk in women

This study emphasizes the significance of cardiovascular screening and preventive measures due to increasing rates of cardiovascular risk factors, including heart attacks in younger individuals. It also notes a rise in depression and anxiety rates, particularly following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Younger women experiencing anxiety or depression face nearly double the risk of developing conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes over a decade compared to those without such mental health issues. This risk level parallels that of men in the same age group concerning heart disease.

Cardiologist and research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School Giovanni Civieri says that the incidence of cardiovascular disease among young women is typically low due to the protective effects of estrogen. However, according to the study, young women with depression or anxiety may be at increased risk. Therefore, it is recommended to screen for cardiovascular risk factors in this group to lower the incidence of cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular risk higher in women below 50 with depression and anxiety

The study examined health records of 71,214 individuals from Mass General Brigham Biobank, excluding those with pre-existing heart disease or anxiety/depression. Over a decade, 38% developed high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. Those with prior anxiety or depression were 55% more likely to develop these conditions, with women under 50 being particularly vulnerable, nearly doubling their risk compared to others.

Young women generally have the lowest cardiovascular risk factors due to estrogen’s protective effects. However, anxiety and depression increase their relative risk significantly compared to other groups. Dr. Civieri, the lead author, states that once young women experience depression or anxiety, their absolute risk becomes comparable to young males, indicating a catch-up phenomenon where these mental health issues elevate an otherwise low risk.

Mobile Sliding Menu