Objective: To review and quantify the impact of depression on the development of coronary heart disease (CHD) in initially healthy subjects.
Data sources: Cohort studies on depression and CHD were searched in MEDLINE (1966-2000) and PSYCHINFO (1887-2000), bibliographies, expert consultation, and personal reference files.
Data selection: Cohort studies with clinical depression or depressive mood as the exposure, and myocardial infarction or coronary death as the outcome.
Data extraction: Information on study design, sample size and characteristics, assessment of depression, outcome, number of cases, crude and most-adjusted relative risks, and variables used in multivariate adjustments were abstracted.
Data synthesis: Eleven studies met the inclusion criteria. The overall relative risk [RR] for the development of CHD in depressed subjects was 1.64 (95% confidence interval [CI]=1.29-2.08, p<0.001). A sensitivity analysis showed that clinical depression (RR=2.69, 95% CI=1.63-4.43, p<0.001) was a stronger predictor than depressive mood (RR=1.49, 95% CI=1.16-1.92, p=0.02).
Conclusion: It is concluded that depression predicts the development of CHD in initially healthy people. The stronger effect size for clinical depression compared to depressive mood points out that there might be a dose-response relationship between depression and CHD. Implications of the findings for a broader bio-psycho-social framework are discussed.