Leo Sher, M.D.
A research work, “Associations between depression and cardiometabolic health: A 27-year longitudinal study” was published a few days ago in Psychological Medicine online ahead of print (1). Physical and mental health interact throughout the life. The authors examined whether depression symptoms in midlife are associated with the subsequent onset of cardiometabolic disorders.
The study sample consisted of 787 male twin veterans with polygenic risk score data who participated in the Harvard Twin Study of Substance Abuse (‘baseline’) and the longitudinal Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging (‘follow-up’). Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging is a longitudinal study of cognitive and brain aging in men, comprising a subset of twins from the Vietnam Era Twin Registry. The sample was restricted to the participants with genetically determined white, non-Hispanic European ancestry who were healthy enough to participate in data collection. Depression symptoms were assessed at baseline [mean age 41.42 years (s.d. = 2.34)] using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule, Version III, Revised. The onset of eight cardiometabolic conditions (atrial fibrillation, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, myocardial infarction, sleep apnea, and stroke) was assessed via self-reported doctor diagnosis at follow-up [mean age 67.59 years (s.d. = 2.41)]. Individuals with disease onset before baseline were excluded.
Total depression symptoms were longitudinally associated with incident diabetes (OR 1.29, 95% CI 1.07-1.57), erectile dysfunction (OR 1.32, 95% CI 1.10-1.59), hypercholesterolemia (OR 1.26, 95% CI 1.04-1.53), and sleep apnea (OR 1.40, 95% CI 1.13-1.74) over 27 years after controlling for age, alcohol consumption, smoking, body mass index, C-reactive protein, and polygenic risk for specific health conditions. Body mass index was significantly associated with atrial fibrillation (OR 1.38, CI 1.03–1.85), diabetes (OR 1.64, CI 1.36–1.99), hypercholesterolemia (OR 1.30, CI 1.06–1.61), hypertension (OR 1.77, CI 1.39–2.25), and sleep apnea (OR 2.23, CI 1.75–2.83).
The authors concluded that a history of depression symptoms by early midlife is associated with an increased risk for subsequent development of several health conditions. Depression symptoms may be a predictor or marker of cardiometabolic risk over many years. The authors noted that higher body mass index is probably causally associated with the incidence of depression.
1. Ditmars HL, Logue MW, Toomey R, McKenzie RE, Franz CE, Panizzon MS, Reynolds CA, Cuthbert KN, Vandiver R, Gustavson DE, Eglit GML, Elman JA, Sanderson-Cimino M, Williams ME, Andreassen OA, Dale AM, Eyler LT, Fennema-Notestine C, Gillespie NA, Hauger RL, Jak AJ, Neale MC, Tu XM, Whitsel N, Xian H, Kremen WS, Lyons MJ. Associations between depression and cardiometabolic health: A 27-year longitudinal study. Psychol Med. 2021 Jan 12:1-11. doi: 10.1017/S003329172000505X. Epub ahead of print.