Black Americans who are depressed may be at increased risk for heart disease and stroke, a new study finds.
The study, based on the ongoing Jackson Heart Study in Jackson, Miss., included more than 3,300 blacks between 21 and 94 years old who were screened for depression. None of the participants had a history of heart attack or stroke.
But more than 22 percent had major depression at the start of the study, and over the course of 10 years, they had a higher risk of heart disease (5.6 percent vs. 3.6 percent) and stroke (3.7 percent vs. 2.6 percent) than those without depression, the researchers found.
Participants with depression were more likely to be women, have chronic health problems, get less exercise, have lower incomes, smoke, and have a higher body mass index (BMI), an estimate of body fat based on height and weight.
The study was published recently in the journal Circulation: Quality and Outcomes.
“African-Americans have higher rates of severe depression yet lower rates of treatment compared with white populations,” said lead researcher Emily O’Brien, a medical instructor at Duke University’s Clinical Research Institute, in Durham, N.C.
“We need better communication between providers and patients to support early screening and shared decision-making to reduce the rate of depression in this population,” she said in a journal news release.
The study only found an association, rather than a cause-and-effect link, between depression and risk of heart ailments in blacks.
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about depression and heart disease.