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Doctors warn on heart disease and depression

The combination of depression and heart disease is more deadly than either factor alone, researchers say.

It is already known that either influence can increase the risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke, but there has been little research on both factors combined. Now, experts writing in the journal Heart have concluded the risks are higher if a person is both depressed and suffers from heart disease.

Almost 6,000 middle-aged British men and women were followed for nearly six years for the research, led by teams from University College London and the University of Versailles in France.

Around one in five of those taking part had both heart disease and depression. Overall, 170 people died during the study period, including 47 from cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks or strokes.

The results showed that people with heart disease alone had a 67 per cent higher chance of dying from any cause than those without either heart disease or depression.

Meanwhile, people with depressive symptoms only were more than twice as likely to die as those with neither heart disease nor depression.

When researchers looked at those people with both depression and heart disease, and adjusted the results to take account of factors such as age and sex, they found the combination tripled the risk of death from any cause and quadrupled the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. The researchers called for doctors to pay more attention to depression in their cardiac patients.