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Depression and Heart Disease Make a Deadly Combination

Depression and Heart Disease Make a Deadly Combination

In the U.S., an estimated one out of every 10 adults suffers from some form of depression. While depression can take its toll on a person’s personal and professional lives, this form of mental illness can also cause serious long-term health problems. According to a recent study, depression and anxiety, when coupled with heart disease, triples a person’s risk of death when compared to individuals who only suffer from cardiac problems alone.

At Sandy Family Dentistry, Dr. Derek Conklin, your trusted dentist in Sandy, OR, wants every patient to understand the risk they face both their oral and overall health. With studies showing a link between poor oral health and a variety of chronic health conditions like heart disease, it’s vital that patients understand the overall connections.

Among patients with a heart condition, anxiety alone can double their risk of dying from any cause, and depression only further increases those odds, according to researchers at the Durham, North Carolina based Duke University Medical Center. Researchers also concluded that individuals with heart disease who deal with high anxiety due to stressors associated with everyday life may benefit from treatments methods used to help reduce anxiety, such as learning stress management techniques or taking anti-anxiety medication.

Previous studies that have examined the link between mental and physical health have found that heart attack patients are three times more likely to suffer from depression, but few studies have tried to determine what effect anxiety or the combination of depression and anxiety may have on patients suffering from heart disease.

The study was published in the March edition of the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Study Results

As heart disease ranks as the leading cause of death in the U.S. and with over one-third of all U.S. adults suffering from an anxiety disorder at some point in their lifetime, researchers at Duke University set about trying to determine how all of these conditions may interplay with one another.

As part of the study, researchers asked over 900 patients- average age of 62- with heart disease to complete a questionnaire used to measure their level of depression and anxiety right before or just after undergoing a coronary angiography, a potentially stressful cardiac procedure that uses dyes and special x-rays to view the conditions of coronary arteries.

Researchers determined that 90 patients suffered from anxiety, while 65 suffered from depression. Overall, 99 patients suffered from both depression and anxiety.

In the three years following the initial questionnaire, 133 patients died, and of those, 55 suffered from either depression, anxiety, or both conditions. The majority of deaths in study participants were related to heart disease.

Participants who suffer from high anxiety during stressful periods in their lives, such as undergoing hospitalization for cardiac problems, have an increased risk of dying. Further more, this risk of dying is independent of the severity of their depression and of their heart disease, according to researchers.

Researchers speculate that the feelings of worthlessness and fatigue often associated with depression may result in patients ignoring treatment for heart disease, which accounts for part of why patients suffer an increased risk of dying. Anxiety can also increase blood pressure and inflammation, which further complicates a person’s health when dealing with heart disease.

Researchers warn that the findings of this study suggest a serious need for routine screenings for depression and anxiety of all patients suffering from a serious medical condition and/or who are about to undergo a serious medical procedure.

Your Dentist in Sandy, OR

Considering how important your oral health is to your overall health, it’s imperative that patients do everything they can to maintain and improve their long-term oral health. The American Dental Association recommends that everyone brush at least twice a day and floss daily, while also scheduling regular dental checkups and cleanings with Dr. Derek Conklin, your trusted dentist in Sandy, OR, at least twice a year.

If you have any questions about the best practices for protecting your oral health, feel free to ask any member of our staff at Sandy Family Dentistry during your next appointment.

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