It is known that people with depression have a high risk of heart disease.
However, how the two conditions are connected has been unclear.
In a new study, researchers found that inflammation may link the two diseases.
The research was conducted by a team from the University of Cambridge.
inflammation is the body’s response to negative environmental factors, such as stress.
Normally, inflammation is a natural response necessary to fight off infection. But chronic inflammation can be harmful to people’s health.
Chronic inflammation can be caused by psychological stress and unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking, too much alcohol drinking, too much sitting and obesity.
In the study, the team examined the link between heart disease and depression in almost 370,000 middle-aged participants of UK Biobank.
They found that people who reported at least one parent had died of heart disease were 20% more likely to have depression in their life.
The researchers then calculated a genetic risk score for coronary heart disease. They found no strong association between the genetic predisposition for heart disease and the likelihood of experiencing depression.
These findings show that the link between heart disease and depression cannot be explained by a common genetic factor in the two diseases.
They suggest that factors in a patient’s environment may not only increase their risk of heart disease but also increases the risk of depression.
The team next used a technique to test 15 biomarkers linked to increased risk of coronary heart disease.
They found that triglycerides (a type of fat found in the blood) and the inflammation-related proteins were also risk factors for depression.
This finding shows that inflammation could be a shared mechanism for heart disease and depression.
The team hopes their findings can help develop new treatments for the diseases.
Scientists need to stop thinking about mental and physical health in isolation and continue this example of bringing sciences together to create real change.
The lead author of the study is Dr. Golam Khandaker, a Wellcome Trust Intermediate Clinical Fellow at the University of Cambridge.
The study is published in Molecular Psychiatry.
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