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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2003 Aug;51(8):1105-10.

Late-life depression is associated with arterial stiffness: a population-based study.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology Biostatistics, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.



To determine whether arterial stiffness is associated with depression in the elderly.


Population-based cross-sectional study.


In Ommoord, a suburb of Rotterdam, the Netherlands.


Three thousand seven hundred four subjects of the Rotterdam Study aged 60 and older.


Arterial stiffness was assessed using the distensibility of the carotid artery and the carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity. All participants were screened for depressive symptoms with the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression scale. Those with depressive symptoms had a psychiatric evaluation to establish a diagnosis of depressive disorders according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) criteria.


Participants with increased arterial stiffness were more likely to have depressive symptoms. Odds ratios (ORs) for depressive symptoms were 1.24 (95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.01-1.52) per standard deviation decrease in carotid distensibility and 1.17 (95% CI = 1.00-1.38) per standard deviation increase in aortic pulse wave velocity. The association was stronger for depressive disorders meeting DSM-IV criteria (OR = 1.44, 95% CI = 1.03-2.03; OR = 1.48, 95% CI = 1.16-1.90, respectively). Control for atherosclerosis, as measured by the ankle-to-brachial index or presence of plaques in the carotid artery, did not change the associations.


This study shows an association between arterial stiffness and depression in the elderly. The findings are compatible with the vascular depression hypothesis. These data suggest that arterial stiffness may partly cause the proposed relationship between vascular factors and depression.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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