Depressive symptoms and cardiovascular disease

Depressive symptoms related to CVD mortality

Elderly men from the FINE study cohorts of Finland, the Netherlands and Italy who manifested a number of depressive symptoms had a 2-fold greater 10-year CVD mortality. The relative risk did not change after excluding cases that died from CVD in the first 5 years of follow-up. The strongest associations were observed with the mortality from stroke and heart failure and the relation with CHD mortality was of borderline statistical significance. Depressive symptoms were not related to the risk of other degenerative heart diseases and no differences in risk from depression were observed between northern and southern Europe.

Interpretation

The results of this study provide strong support for the hypothesis that depressive symptoms are a real and causal risk factor for CVD. Its prospective design established that the depressive symptoms preceded the fatal CVD event. Furthermore, the large sample size and the long follow-up made it possible to exclude subjects who died from CVD in the first five years after baseline, making reversed causality unlikely, that is, that the event caused the depressive symptoms. Adjustment for many confounding variables made it likely that the depressive symptoms had an independent effect.

About the FINE study

In 1984, the SCS field surveys were extended with different aspects of health in the FINE (Finland Italy Netherlands Elderly) study. Similar surveys were also carried out in Serbia and Crete. Read more about the FINE study.

More about healthy aging

From 1984 onwards, additional studies started to examine indicators of healthy ageing in the elderly populations of in the SCS and related studies.


Measuring functional status

Functional status was measured with a self-administered 13-item WHO-questionnaire on activities of daily living.