Research has shown there is a clear link between heart disease and depression. Researchers have been looking into new ways to reduce depression among patients suffering from heart disease. According to a new report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, exercise may reduce the effects of depression.
The report is based on results from a four-year study that was first conducted in 2003. The authors of the study asked 2,300 people with heart problems to participate in an exercise program at home. Researchers polled the participants to gauge their level of depression before the study was conducted. Slightly less than 30% of the participants said that they were depressed when the study was first initiated. They were slightly less depressed after the study was concluded.
However, James Blumenthal, lead researcher of the study, said that the results were not as compelling enough to create much optimism. However, future research could indicate that the correlation between exercise and depression among patients at risk of developing heart failure may be more significant than Blumenthal’s study indicates.
Depression and heart disease appear to feed into each other. Patients suffering from heart disease commonly become depressed. In turn, their worsened emotional state causes more damage to their hearts. In order to break the cycle, patients need to identify ways to reduce the effects of depression.
The authors of the study found that patients who exercised at least an hour and a half a week were less likely to be depressed. Although the direct effects exercise played on reducing depression weren’t statistically significant, the overall impacts were more noticeable.
Washington University’s Kenneth Freedland was not involved in the study. He said that the study was encouraging for anyone suffering from depression and heart disease. Depression is a complex and very difficult problem to treat. Any lifestyle change that can reduce depression should be considered. However, Freedland said that exercise alone isn’t generally enough to cure depression by itself.
Blumenthal also cautioned that treating depression may not reduce the likelihood of suffering future heart failure. There is a clear correlation between heart disease risks and depression. However, it could be a one-sided relationship. Patients suffering from heart disease happen could be more likely to suffer depression. Researchers will need to better understand the relationship between depression and heart disease before they decide how important it is to treat depression.
Nonetheless, other studies have shown that depression is a leading cause of heart disease. If the findings of these studies are accurate, treating depression is a key element in reducing the impact of heart disease.