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Persistent or Remittent Depressive Symptoms Increase Cardiovascular Risk

November 21, 2019

In middle-age and older adults, depressive symptoms that were persistent, as well as depressive symptoms that were remitted, were associated with a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease compared with no depressive symptoms at all. Researchers published these findings from a large prospective cohort in The Journals of Gerontology: Series A. 

The study included 6810 participants from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study who had no cardiovascular disease at baseline. Depressive symptoms were assessed using the 10-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale at some point between 2011 and 2012, and for a second time between 2013 and 2014. Researchers examined how participants’ depressive symptoms changed (categorizing them as never present, new onset, remitted, and persistent) and looked at the incidence of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality by 2015 and 2016. 

Participants who had persistent depressive symptoms had an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (researchers reported a risk ratio of 1.77) and mortality (1.63) compared with participants with no depressive symptoms over the course of the study. Although new-onset depressive symptoms increased the risk of all-cause mortality (the risk ratio was 2.37), they did not significantly raise the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Depressive symptoms that remitted, meanwhile, were linked with a 35% higher risk of cardiovascular disease and a 13% higher risk of mortality compared with no depressive symptoms, according to the study. 

Jolynn Tumolo


Li H, Qian F, Hou C, et al. Longitudinal changes in depressive symptoms and risks of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality: a nationwide population-based cohort study [published online ahead of print October 7, 2019]. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glz228

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