Heart Health

06 April 2016

How treating depression and increasing vitamin D intake can boost heart health

If you have depression, getting treatment and increasing their vitamin D intake may benefit your heart health, new research suggests.

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Getting proper treatment for depression and increasing vitamin D levels may improve heart health, according to new research.

The findings have been included in a pair of research studies presented at the American College of Cardiology conference in Chicago.

The initial study centred on depression, a known risk factor for heart attack, stroke and also death.

Experts at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City studied a registry of more than 7,500 participants, and realised when depressed individuals get effective therapy, they can decrease their likelihood of heart impairment to the very same level as an individual who never suffered from depression.

Read: Depression strikes heart disease patients

"Our study has verified that prompt, effective treatment of depression seems to decrease the chance of poor heart health," said Heidi May, a cardiovascular epidemiologist with the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute.

However, individuals who stayed depressed had higher rates of heart issues - at a rate of about six percent, in comparison with around four percent of people without depression.

"The key result of our study is: depression may make heart disease worse," May said.

Yet another study, also led by May, focused on two measures of vitamin D, which when too low can predict the likelihood of heart attack, stroke, heart failure or death.

Some 4,200 people aged 52 to 76 were examined. Most actually had coronary artery disease (70 percent) and one quarter were diabetic.

Read: Specific danger levels for vitamin D established

For doctors who treat these individuals, the most crucial measures of vitamin D are known as total vitamin D and bioavailable vitamin D, since both have been "the most reliable in predicting dangerous cardiovascular events," said the findings.

"Our research study discovered that low levels of both total vitamin D and bioavailable vitamin D appear to be associated with poor cardiovascular outcomes," said May.

"And evaluating functional vitamin D could mean the distinction on the quantity of vitamin D suggested, if it's prescribed at all."

May added that further research was needed to examine Caucasian and African-American patients, as these groups are known to be impacted differently by vitamin D. 

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