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CNN Today

Depression, Heart Disease May be Linked

Aired October 10, 2000 - 1:30 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Scientists may have found another link between our minds and our bodies. It seems depression affects more than our moods. It could be a factor in whether we get heart disease.

Here's CNN medical correspondent Holly Firfer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HOLLY FIRFER, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Remember the fairy tale, "she died of a broken heart"? New research shows there might be some truth in that.

DR. STEVEN MANOUKIAN, CARDIOLOGIST: It's been increasingly recognized that depression is a risk factor for the development of heart disease.

FIRFER: In a study in the American Heart Association's journal "Circulation," doctors followed almost 4,500 elderly patients with no prior risk of heart disease and found that those who developed depressive symptoms were 40 percent more likely to develop cardiovascular problems.

MANOUKIAN: So there may be possibilities of relationships between things like seratonin or adrenaline that might cause changes in heart rate, blood pressure and the stickiness of clotting cells, called platelets. All of these tend to interact.

FIRFER: Another theory: Depression may increase the production of free radicals and fatty acids, which can damage the lining of blood vessels, putting the patient at a higher risk for sudden death.

Doctors also link depression with unhealthy lifestyles.

MANOUKIAN: They may not exercise as much. They may not have good dietary habits. They may tend to smoke or drink in excess.

FIRFER: The study was done by questionnaire. Elderly patients were asked how they felt the previous week.

For example: "I was happy." "My sleep was restless." "I could not get going." "I had trouble keeping my mind on what I was doing." Answers ranged from "Some of the time," "None of the time," and "All of the time" to determine the degree of depression. According to the answers, men and those who were married or lived with others had a lower rate of depression. Smokers and those who had problems performing daily activities due to a physical impairment had a higher risk. Doctors say, while the link is clear, for some patients the question remains: Which came first, depression or the heart disease?

Holly Firfer, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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