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Depression, anxiety can spike heart failure risk

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WASHINGTON — Experts from across the globe have said that there is a Pathophysiological relationship between heart failure and depression and anxiety.

According to the latest study by Harvard Review of Psychiatry, about one-third of people who have fallen into traps of depression and anxiety are at higher risk of progressive heart diseases.

Christopher Celano, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital and colleagues were of the view that both anxiety and depression remain under-recognized and untreated in patients suffering from heart failure or cardiac attack.

He further said that at times, it becomes challenging for medical practitioners to identify the symptoms of heart failure as there is a significant overlap between psychiatric symptoms and those related to heart failure.

“Making the effort can help to identify those who are at higher risk for poor cardiac outcomes and to implement the treatment of these disorders,” Celano said.

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The victims of heart failure suffering from depression and anxiety also find it difficult to follow the recommended diet, exercise routine, and medication use. Studies have also linked depression to metabolic changes, including increased levels of inflammatory markers.

While conducting the study, the researchers found that one-third of people having heart failure have elevated symptoms of depression on standard questionnaires, while nineteen percent meet diagnostic criteria for major depression or other depressive disorders.

The study also revealed that even a healthy person suffering from mild depression is also likely to develop heart failure.

Notably, these researchers have raised the need for further research on effective treatments for the large group of people suffering from heart failure accompanied by depression and anxiety.

Celano and co-authors conclude, “It is likely that an aggressive, multimodal treatment approach – such as collaborative care models or stepped care from a mental health professional — will be needed to improve psychiatric and cardiac health in this high-risk population.”

The study appeared in the journal Harvard Review of Psychiatry.

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Regular physical activity may reduce heart attack risk even in highly polluted areas

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Regular physical activity may reduce the risk of heart attack, even in areas with moderate-to-high levels of traffic pollution, a study has claimed.

Higher levels of pollution were associated with more heart attacks, however, the risk was lower among those who were physically active, the researchers found in the study published in the Journal of the American Heart.

“While exercise is known to reduce cardiovascular disease risk; pollution can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks, asthma and chronic obstructive lung disease,” said lead author Nadine Kubesch from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

“Currently there is little data on whether poor air quality cancels out the protective benefits of physical activity in preventing heart attacks,” Kubesch added.

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Researchers in Denmark, Germany and Spain evaluated outdoor physical activity levels (sports, cycling, walking and gardening) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2 pollutant generated by traffic) exposure in 51,868 adults, aged 50-65.

Over a 17.7-year period, there were 2,936 first heart attacks and 324 recurrent heart attacks.

Moderate cycling for four or more hours per week cut risk for recurrent heart attack by 31 per cent; and there was a 58 per cent reduction when all four types of physical activity (together totalling four hours per week or more) were combined, regardless of air quality.

Those who participated in sports had a 15 per cent lower rate of initial heart attacks and there was a 9 per cent risk reduction associated with cycling, regardless of air quality, the researchers said.

Compared to participants with low residential NO2 exposure, those in higher risk areas had a 17 per cent increase risk in first heart attack and 39 per cent for recurrent heart attack, the researchers noted.

With Agency Inputs

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