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Researchers have found that women with depression are more likely to develop heart disease compared to men with depression, citing factors such as hormones and inflammation as contributors to cardiovascular disease. They believe that better screenings for both men and women with depression are needed in order to improve outcomes for both populations in terms of cardiovascular disease. The study, published in JACC: Asia, analyzed more than 4 million patients and found that women were significantly more likely than men to develop cardiovascular disease following a diagnosis of depression.

The study tracked medical claims between 2005 and 2022, analyzing rates of depression and eventual cardiovascular disease diagnosis in patients. Women had a higher hazard ratio than men for developing cardiovascular disease after a diagnosis of depression. The study also highlighted limitations such as the inability to gather specific details on participants’ depression symptoms or the influence of COVID-19. While heart attacks are often associated with men, the risk is equal for both genders, though statistics on treatment and mortality are less favorable for women.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women, killing more women than breast, lung, and colon cancer combined. Women may dismiss symptoms of heart attacks as they may present differently than in men, with symptoms like tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, fatigue, and abdominal discomfort. Women are also more likely to die within five years after a severe heart attack and receive fewer prescriptions for heart disease medications. Women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression as men, and researchers believe that women may experience more severe and persistent symptoms, which can affect their heart attack risk.

Women face unique health challenges related to pregnancy and menopause, which can contribute to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Hormonal fluctuations during these times can impact mental and cardiovascular health, with estrogen playing a role in relaxing arteries and promoting the production of healthy cholesterol. Chronic stress, depression, and anxiety can lead to inflammation that affects cardiovascular vessels, increasing the risk of heart disease. Sub-specialists in medicine should prioritize depression screening and assessment tools for all patients, recognizing the importance of treating the whole person and addressing mental health as part of overall healthcare.

In conclusion, women with depression have a higher risk of developing heart disease compared to men with depression, with factors such as hormonal fluctuations and inflammation playing a role in increasing cardiovascular risk. The study emphasizes the need for better screenings for both men and women with depression to improve cardiovascular outcomes in both populations. Women’s unique health challenges, such as pregnancy and menopause, can contribute to their increased risk of depression and heart disease. Sub-specialists in medicine should prioritize mental health assessments for all patients to provide comprehensive care and address the impact of mental health on cardiovascular health.

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