Previous research indicated that among those with depression, there is an increased risk of developing CVD, with incidence rates documented as high as 72%.

In a recently published study in the European Heart Journal, researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study that included 636,955 individuals aged 45 years and older.

The authors wrote, “Evidence-based psychotherapies are first-line interventions for the treatment of depression and are delivered nationally in England through the National Health Service [NHS] via the Improving Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) primary care programme.”

Utilizing NHS digital-linked electronic healthcare records databases from England, the primary objective of the study was to evaluate the correlation between outcomes of evidence-based psychotherapies for depression and new incidence of CVD, coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, and all-cause mortality in individuals who completed a course of psychotherapy after an average follow-up of 3.1 years.

The results revealed that individuals whose depression symptoms consistently improved after psychological treatment faced fewer incident cardiovascular (CV) events than those who did not undergo psychological treatment. Additionally, after adjustment for demographic and clinical covariates, a reliable improvement from depression was linked with a 12% reduction in incident risk of CVD at any given time. Comparable results were documented for CHD, stroke, and all-cause mortality. The researchers also noted that correlation was more robust in individuals aged younger than 60 years than those aged 60 years and older, with reported rates of 15% versus 6% diminished risk of incident CVD and 22% versus 15% diminished risk of all-cause mortality, respectively. Moreover, the results were confirmed in a sensitivity analysis.

The researchers discovered that 4 years after the IAPT primary care program, the absolute risk of experiencing a CV event was 7.64% for individuals with reliable improvement and 8.38% for individuals without, an absolute risk difference of 0.74%.

The authors wrote, “These findings are important as they suggest that successful outcomes of evidence-based psychological interventions may extend beyond psychological health and have long-term physical health benefits, particularly for those aged under 60. Sensitivity analyses indicated the associations were statistically robust to therapy outcomes definitions and were replicated when starting follow-up two years after the end of psychological therapy.”

The authors also indicated that their findings imply that managing depression via the implementation of psychological interventions could be influential in preventing CVD. Based on their results, the authors concluded that the implementation of psychological interventions for managing depression might be correlated with a diminished risk of CVD; however, more research is warranted to gain more insight into the connection between these correlations.

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