Nov 15, 2021 - Health

Increased depression ups heart risk

Illustration of a person sitting under a cloud shaped like a virus

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Nearly 40% of patients reported new or continuing symptoms of depression in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic — a problem that could lead to increases in future physical health problems, according to a new study by Intermountain Healthcare.

Why it matters: The study, presented this weekend at American Heart Association's virtual 2021 Scientific Session, warns that the uptick could be linked to future increases in heart concerns.

Details: The study examined 4,633 Intermountain Healthcare patients who completed a standard primary care depression screening.

  • The study found nearly four in 10 reported symptoms of depression during the first year of the pandemic, with worsened feelings of depression than before the pandemic.
  • Looking at electronic health record data, they also found those with depression visited the ED at a 3.5 times greater rate for anxiety and 2.7 times greater rate for anxiety with chest pains compared to the non-depressed.

The bottom line: The high prevalence of depression is a signal of potentially bigger issues that could be coming, said Heidi May, a cardiovascular epidemiologist at Intermountain.

Go deeper