Physical inactivity, depression and heart disease-related death in older adults

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Research has indicated that depressed older individuals are at higher risk of dying than their counterparts without depression. In addition, physical inactivity accounted for a significant proportion (25 percent) of the risk of cardiovascular death due to depression in adults age 65 years and older, according to a 5,900-person U.S. study.

“These data suggest that preventive health and wellness programs in older adults, particularly those with depression, should focus on encouraging enrollment and continued participation in exercise programs,” the study concluded.

The study also added that positive financial incentives, health insurance rebates, transportation vouchers or health club memberships might enhance participation of older adults with depression in these programs and thereby reduce healthcare utilization and the risk of cardiovascular events.

1. Win S, Parakh K, Eze-Nliam CM, et al. Depressive symptoms, physical inactivity and risk of cardiovascular mortality in older adults: the Cardiovascular Health Study. Heart 2011; 97: 500-505. (open access)

Severe depression, unhealthy diet and heart attack risk in Iran

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A study from Iran demonstrates a link between severe depression and heart attack risk. Furthermore, major depression is associated with an uhealthy diet and cardiovascular disease risk factors such as overweight and high levels of cholesterol and blood pressure. An unhealthy diet and CVD risk factors, in turn, are likely to further increase the risk of heart attack.

After the war between Iran and Iraq between 1980 and 1988, psychological illness increased and it is reported that 60,000 Iranians suffer from such conditions. There is a high incidence of suicide, believed to reflect the high levels of depression in Iran.

1. Yary T, Soleimannejad K, Rahim FA, et al. Contribution of diet and major depression to incidence of acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Lipids in Health and Disease 2010; 9: 133. (0pen access)

Depression linked to diabetes complications in the United Arab Emirates

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A study conducted in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) demonstrated that diabetes patients with depression or anxiety are more likely to have eye-related complications (retinopathy, glaucoma) and vascular/neurological complications in the lower limbs (peripheral vascular disease, peripheral neuropathy).

In particular, patients who are depressed tended to have poorer self-care, more severe physical symptoms and were less likely to adhere to prescribed diabetes care regimens. The study also indicated that Islam has a profound impact on the mental health beliefs and practices of people in the Arab region. For example, people tend to believe that mental illness is associated with supernatural influences, such as jinn (aka genies), the evil eye or magic, rather than physical or biomedical; some also believe that a mental illness may be divine punishment as a result of disobedience or sin, or due to weak faith. This in turn, affects a patient’s motivation to seek proper care for depression or anxiety.

“These findings raise the possibility that improving mental health as part of a comprehensive management plan for diabetes may improve the overall long term outcomes of diabetes patients,” the study concluded.

1. Sulaiman N, Hamdan A, Tamim H, et al. The prevalence and correlates of depression and anxiety in a sample of diabetic patients in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. BMC Family Practice 2010; 11: 80. (open access)