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Mental Health

Study: Taking cholesterol drugs could reduce the risk of depression

A study has identified a link between cardiovascular risk factors and an increased risk of depression in older adults.

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woman suffering from depression sitting on the bed in the bedroom
(Perfect Angle Images via Shutterstock)

By Mark Waghorn via SWNS

Statins could reduce the risk of depression, according to new research.

The cholesterol-lowering drugs boost mental health - by reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, say scientists.

People at high risk are almost twice as likely to develop depression, suggest the findings..

Improving heart health may prevent onset of the mental illness, according to the research team.

For years, scientists have known about the two-way relationship. At least a quarter of cardiac patients suffer with depression - and adults with depression often develop heart disease.

Now a study has identified a link between cardiovascular risk factors and an increased risk of depression in older adults. Women are most vulnerable.

Lead author Dr. Sandra Martin-Pelaez, of Granada University in Sapin, said: "High cardiovascular risk, especially in women, is associated with symptoms of depression in the elderly."

Her team used data from an ongoing six year randomized trial across Spain that analyses the effect of a Mediterranean Diet on overweight or obese men and women aged 55 to 75.

The 6,545 participants were free of cardiovascular or hormonal diseases at the outset.

Individuals were divided into low (LR), medium (MR), or high/very high (HR) risk groups
based on key known factors.

Depressive status was also gauged using a questionnaire at the beginning and after two years of follow-up.

At the beginning, women in the HR group showed 78 percent higher odds of depressive status than LR peers.

Among MR and HR individuals, they were 77 percent more prone to depression than LR counterparts.

All individuals were instructed to follow a Mediterranean Diet for two years as part of the trial.

On average, they decreased their depressive status score - with the greatest benefits seen for MR and HR participants with high baseline cholesterol levels.

Dr. Martin-Pelaez said: "High and very high cardiovascular risk are associated with depressive symptoms, especially in women.

"The role of other factors, such as adherence to the Mediterranean Diet, deserves further research."

Statins are taken by six million Britons. They provide a barrier against heart disease by reducing the production of bad, or 'LDL' cholesterol inside the body.

The sticky blood fats cling to the inside of arteries and can block blood supply - triggering a heart attack or stroke.

Cardiovascular disease is the world's number one killer, claiming almost 18 million lives annually.

It is responsible for 160,000 deaths in the UK each year - about a quarter of the total number.

The research was published in the journal PLOS One.

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