Background: Increased arterial stiffness (AS) might be one significant acute mediator of the well-attested association between female depression and cardiovascular disease.
Methods: We tested this hypothesis in an inpatient sample of 20 drug-free women undergoing a new clinically severe major depressive episode of recent onset with an adequately matched mentally healthy control group. Patients' clinical (Hamilton Depression Rating Scale) and vascular (Pulse-Wave-Velocity, PWV) assessments were performed both before the initiation and after the completion of their six-week antidepressant treatment.
Results: Although initially patients exhibited significantly higher PWV values than controls, this was decreased and reached comparable levels to controls after treatment completion. Moreover, full-responders exhibited significantly greater vascular improvement than their partial-responders counterparts and the magnitude of their amelioration was strongly associated with the magnitude of their clinical improvement.
Limitations: Our sample-size was small and patients' follow-up short.
Conclusions: Our findings provide support to the hypothesis that current severe major depressive episode in women leads acutely to aggravation of arterial stiffness, reversible however upon timely and effective antidepressant treatment.
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