Researchers studying heart patients in the US found that changes in health behaviours, and lack of physical activity in particular, might explain the increased risk of cardiovascular events seen in patients with coronary heart disease who also had symptoms of depression.

The study was the work of Dr Mary A Whooley, of the VA Medical Center in San Francisco, California, and colleagues from other research centres in the US, Germany and The Netherlands, and was published in the November 26 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA.

Doctors have long known that depression is a risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease in healthy people, and a large body of evidence shows that depression is more common among heart patients and increases the risk of a second cardiovascular event. But the underlying mechanisms have remained somewhat of a mystery.


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