Depression is a risk factor for incident coronary heart disease in women: An 18-year longitudinal study

J Affect Disord. 2016 May 15:196:117-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2016.02.029. Epub 2016 Feb 16.


Background: According to a recent position paper by the American Heart Association, it remains unclear whether depression is a risk factor for incident Coronary Heart Disease (CHD). We assessed whether a depressive disorder independently predicts 18-year incident CHD in women.

Method: A prospective longitudinal study of 860 women enrolled in the Geelong Osteoporosis Study (1993-2011) was conducted. Participants were derived from an age-stratified, representative sample of women (20-94 years) randomly selected from electoral rolls in South-Eastern Australia. The exposure was a diagnosis of a depressive disorder using the Structured Clinical Interview for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Outcomes data were collected from hospital medical records: (1) PRIMARY OUTCOME: a composite measure of cardiac death, non-fatal Myocardial Infarction or coronary intervention. (2) Secondary outcome: any cardiac event (un/stable angina, cardiac event not otherwise defined) occurring over the study period.

Results: Seven participants were excluded based on CHD history. Eighty-three participants (9.6%) recorded ≥1 cardiac event over the study period; 47 had a diagnosis that met criteria for inclusion in the primary analysis. Baseline depression predicted 18-year incidence, adjusting for (1) anxiety (adj. OR:2.39; 95% CIs:1.19-4.82), plus (2) typical risk factors (adj. OR:3.22; 95% CIs:1.45-6.93), plus (3) atypical risk factors (adj. OR:3.28; 95% CIs:1.36-7.90). This relationship held when including all cardiac events. No relationship was observed between depression and recurrent cardiac events.

Conclusion: The results of this study support the contention that depression is an independent risk factor for CHD incidence in women. Moreover, the strength of association between depression and CHD incidence was of a greater magnitude than any typical and atypical risk factor.

Keywords: Coronary heart disease; Depression; Prevention; Risk factor; Women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Coronary Artery Disease / epidemiology*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / psychology
  • Depression / complications*
  • Depressive Disorder / complications*
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / epidemiology
  • Myocardial Infarction / psychology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • South Australia / epidemiology