Coronary heart disease and depression: a review of recent mechanistic research

Can J Psychiatry. 2006 Oct;51(12):738-45. doi: 10.1177/070674370605101203.


Objective: Both behavioural and physiological factors have been proposed as mechanisms that may explain the negative effect of depression on coronary heart disease (CHD). Our aim is to review some of the most important findings since our prior review.

Method: We searched MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and other sources for recent studies of candidate mechanisms, with an emphasis on publications since 2002.

Results: Physiological pathways have received far greater attention than behavioural ones in the emerging literature. Recent studies have identified shared genetic determinants, inflammation, blood clotting, and vascular mechanisms as plausible explanatory mechanisms.

Conclusions: Future research should focus on relations between behavioural and physiological mechanisms and on the effects of pharmacologic and psychotherapeutic treatments for depression on candidate mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Blood Platelets / drug effects
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology*
  • Coronary Disease / etiology*
  • Coronary Disease / physiopathology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data
  • Vagus Nerve / physiopathology