Depressed? Here's Another Reason to Work Out

Exercise may lower heart disease risk in depressed patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) The idea that exercise could help depressed patients isn't a new one. But what could be a new idea is that it could also help their hearts.

A new study from Emory University found that, while depression symptoms were linked to an increased risk of heart disease, regular exercise seemed to reduce this risk.

"Our findings highlight the link between worsening depression and cardiovascular risk and support routinely assessing depression in patients to determine heart disease risk," said lead study author Arshed A. Quyyumi, MD, the director of the Emory Clinical Cardiovascular Research Institute, in a press release. "This research also demonstrates the positive effects of exercise for all patients, including those with depressive symptoms."

Depression has repeatedly been linked to an increased risk of and worse outcomes for heart disease and other health conditions. As many as 20 percent of patients hospitalized for heart attack report symptoms of depression. Heart disease patients likewise have three times the risk of depression as other patients.

To better understand the link between depression and heart disease, Dr. Quyyumi and team looked at 965 patients without a history of heart disease or mental health issues.

Surveys were used to assess these patients for depression, physical activity level and early indicators of heart disease, such as arterial stiffening and inflammation.

Researchers found that as depression symptoms worsened, so did the early indicators for heart disease. These indicators were also more pronounced in the inactive patients than the patients who exercised regularly.

This study was published Jan. 11 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Information on funding sources and conflicts of interest were not available at the time of publication.

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Review Date: 
January 11, 2016
Last Updated:
January 12, 2016