For individuals with heart problems, stress and depressions can be very dangerous the combo is being described as a perfect storm that can increase the patient's risks of death.

In a new study published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes on March 10, researchers have found that individuals with coronary heart disease had 48 percent increased odds of dying or suffering from heart attack compared with their counterparts with low levels of stress and depression.

Carmela Alcántara, from Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues followed 4,487 patients with heart disease who were at least 45 years old for a period of six years.

The participants were asked how often they felt lonely or depressed during the past week. The participants were likewise asked how often they experienced feeling unable to control crucial things in their lives of overwhelmed over the past month. Of the participants, 274 reported experiencing high stress and depression.

After six years, 1,337 of the participants died or suffered from heart attacks with the researchers finding that the individuals who only had either high stress or depression but did not experience both of these at the same time did not have increased odds for heart attack or death.

"We were surprised that high stress, and high depression, alone did not increase the risk of another heart attack or death, in analyses that accounted for important medical, behavioral, and demographic factors," Alcántara said.

The risk, however, is higher for individuals who both suffered from high stress and serious depression having 48 percent increased odds compared with their counterparts who did not feel emotionally drained.

The researchers also noted that the high vulnerability period of individuals who suffered from intense stress and depression was within the first two and a half years since the study started but the increase in risks disappeared after this period.

"Our results provide initial support for a psychosocial perfect storm conceptual model; the confluence of depressive symptoms and stress on medical prognosis in adults with coronary heart disease may be particularly destructive in the shorter term," the researchers wrote in their study.

Alcántara and colleagues said that the result of their study suggest that doctors may want to consider providing additional treatment methods for their patients with heart disease and these include interventions for treating stress and depression.

Photo: Lloyd Morgan | Flickr

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