A recent report presented at EuroHeart Care 2014, an annual meeting of the Council on Cardiovascular Nursing and Allied Professions, showed that depression leads to an increased risk of heart failure.
According to the study of nearly 1,500 people, compared to individuals with no symptoms of depression, those with mild symptoms had a 5 percent increased risk of developing heart failure, while those with severe symptoms had a 40 percent increased risk of heart failure.
"We found a dose response relationship between depressive symptoms and the risk of developing heart failure," said Lise Tuset Gustad, lead author of the study and an intensive care nurse at Levanger Hospital in Norway. "That means that the more depressed you feel, the more you are at risk. People who have lost interest in things they used to enjoy, such as reading or watching a television series, may have the early signs of depression. It's a good idea to see your doctor in these early stages for some advice on how to reduce your depression levels."
Gustad goes on to explain the relationship of stress with cardiovascular health.
"Depression triggers stress hormones," she said. "If you're stressed you feel your pulse going up and your breath speeding up, which is the result of hormones being released. Those stress hormones also induce inflammation and atherosclerosis, which may accelerate heart diseases. Another mechanism could also be because depressed people find it more difficult to follow advice about how to take medications and improve their lifestyle."
Ways to reduce stress
While depression alone can be debilitating, the fact that it increases risk of heart failure is just one more reason seniors will want to take preventative measures to reducing stress. While it's important to spot the signs of depression early so it can be treated as soon as possible, the best bet is to take steps to avoid it altogether:
- Exercise regularly: Maintaining a healthy body is a surefire way to avoiding stress. Establishing a routine of weekly exercising will keep a mind focused but not overworked.
- Avoid unnecessary stressors: Whether its a person, place or thing that is the source of stress, simply avoiding it will keep depression at bay.
- Accept things that can't be changed: And while it's important to avoid stressful encounters and situations, sometimes they are unavoidable. That's where it's important to accept a situation and try to make the best of it.
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