Depression plus hostility poses heart risk
By Joene Hendry
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Older adults who are simultaneously hostile and depressed may be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
Depressive symptoms and hostility appear to act together in a complex way to influence levels of two inflammatory proteins that predict future heart disease, Dr. Jesse C. Stewart told Reuters Health.
Stewart, of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and colleagues examined the relationships between depressive symptoms, hostility, and the blood levels of two inflammatory markers for cardiovascular disease -- interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein -- in 316 healthy men and women.
Depression and hostility levels of the participants, who ranged in age from 50 to 70 years old, were determined through responses to standard questionnaires, the investigators report in the medical journal Psychosomatic Medicine.
"Greater hostility was associated with higher inflammatory protein levels only among individuals with elevated depressive symptoms," Stewart explained.
These findings suggest that individuals with high levels of both depression and hostility may be at greater risk for heart disease than people only showing high levels of depressive symptoms or high hostility, or low measures of both, the researchers conclude.
"Our findings extend previous findings from younger men to older adults from the general community, and to women," Stewart noted.
Combined, these data suggest there may be physical health reasons, as well as mental health reasons, to treat depression and hostility, Stewart commented.
Additionally, Stewart plans to investigate whether positive emotions, such as happiness, and related factors such as optimism, might protect against heart disease.
Source: Psychosomatic Medicine, February-March 2008.