New research has found that suffering from depression could be linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease -- and even death.
Carried out by an international team of researchers, the new study looked at 145,862 participants with an average age of 50 from 21 countries on five different continents.
After following the participants for a number of years, the researchers found that having four or more symptoms of depression was linked with a 20 percent increase in the risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event, as well as an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and death from all causes.
The risk for the combined outcome of cardiovascular disease and death also progressively increased with the number of symptoms, with the team finding that it was highest in those with seven symptoms and lowest in those with just one.
Moreover, the risk of heart disease and death was more than double for men than women, and twice as high for those living in urban areas compared to those living in rural locations.
Professor Scott Lear at Simon Fraser University, Canada, who co-led the study, says that the findings, which are published in JAMA Psychiatry, are well-timed, considering that an increase in the number of people dealing with mental health problems is expected following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The researchers say that the data suggests that depressive symptoms should be considered as important as traditional risk factors for heart disease, such as smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.