Significant link between depression and the development of coronary heart disease

A study of French power company employees has found a significant link between depression and the development of coronary heart disease (CHD). The research is published today in the International Journal of Epidemiology, edited in the Department of Social Medicine at Bristol University.

Anne Chevalier and colleagues in the health insurance department of France’s nationwide power company, Electricité de France – Gaz de France (EDF-GDF), studied 660 of the company’s male employees, aged between 31 and 55 years, who had presented with an initial clinical form of CHD between 1993 and 1997.

They found a significant association between heart disease and sick leave for any medical reason in the three years before its onset – an association that was strengthened when only absences for depression and anxiety were considered. This association remained important when adjusted for socio-economic factors. A previous sick-leave for depression or anxiety in the ten years before the heart disease diagnosis strengthened the association further.

Dr Chevalier said: “Complex relations seem to link markers of mental health and predictors of heart disease, with depression and anxiety appearing to play a major role in this chain. The practical consequences of this study may help lead to recommendations for the management of depression. Although it may be premature to take depression into account as a risk factor in its own right for CHD, our findings constitute an additional argument in favour of its role.”

Paper: C Allonier, A Chevalier, M Zins, O Catelinois, SM Consoli, M Goldberg and G Lahon: ‘Anxiety or depressive disorders and risk of ischaemic heart disease among French power company employees’ IJE 2004, Vol 33 No 4 pp 779-786.

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