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Depression and anxiety raise risk of death from heart disease

March 26, 2013

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 600,000 people die each year from heart disease, making it the number one cause of death in the United States. A number of factors come into play when determining the mortality risk of older heart disease patients, but new research released by the American Heart Association suggests those who have depression and anxiety are significantly more likely to die from the condition.

The study was led by scientists from Duke University Medical Center and relied on an analysis of more than 930 heart disease patients with an average age of 62. Each participant took a questionnaire that measured their levels of depression and anxiety. By the end of the study, the team found that subjects who had anxiety were about twice as likely to die from heart disease, while those who had both depression and anxiety were at a three times greater risk of dying from the condition. Scientists were not shocked by the findings.

"People who worry a lot are more likely to have difficulty sleeping and to develop high blood pressure," said lead author Dr. Lana Watkins. "Depression results in lack of adherence to medical advice and treatments, along with behaviors like smoking and being sedentary."

Around 6.5 million adults 65 and older experience symptoms of depression, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, and these recent results are certainly not the only evidence that conditions such as depression and anxiety have been shown to have an impact on healthy aging. Last year, a study out of Australia found that seniors who had symptoms of depression and anxiety were more likely to experience physical disabilities, as well.