Young and Middle-Aged Women May be More Susceptible to Heart Disease due to Depression and Anxiety: Research

Women under 50 who suffered from anxiety or sadness saw this effect more strongly. Of all the groups analyzed, their estimated risk of developing cardiovascular risk factors was nearly twice that of any other group.

Young women generally had the lowest absolute risk rates of cardiovascular risk factors across all categories, which is consistent with earlier studies and the state of science on estrogen’s protective effect in premenopausal women.

However, it has been discovered that young women are far more likely than other demographic groups to experience anxiety and depression in relation to the development of these diseases.

“Once a young woman has depression or anxiety, her absolute risk is comparable to a young male. There is a sort of catch-up phenomenon where depression and anxiety increase the risk that would otherwise be very low,” according to Dr. Civieri.

In a group of patients who underwent brain imaging, the researchers examined the metabolic processes in the stress-related regions of the brain in an effort to identify the underlying causes of this connection. According to the research, young women who are depressed or anxious had noticeably more activity in brain areas linked to stress.

“The question is: Why are anxiety and depression associated with heightened gains in risk among younger females? This is something we are continuing to study,” according to Dr. Civieri.

The study team decided to examine anxiety and depression together even though they are two different disorders because they share similar neurological pathways and are associated with a higher risk of heart disease. Accordingly, it is thought that they have comparable effects on health.

At now, there is uncertainty regarding the potential risk reduction of cardiovascular illnesses associated with mental health therapies such as psychotherapy or antidepressant medications.

But, as Dr. Civieri notes, once a patient is diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, there are effective treatments like statins and blood pressure medications that can dramatically reduce the risk of a serious cardiac event.