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Arch Intern Med. 2005 Jun 13;165(11):1229-36.

Coronary and aortic calcification in women with a history of major depression.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Division of Cardiology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.



Although depression is a well-documented risk factor for clinical heart disease, its association with subclinical atherosclerosis is unclear. We hypothesized that middle-aged women with a history of recurrent major depression would show evidence of atherosclerosis.


Coronary and aortic calcification was measured by electron beam tomography in 58 African American and 152 white healthy middle-aged women. Women were administered the Structured Clinical Interview for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition and a self-report measure of current depressive symptoms.


Coronary calcification was found in 103 women (49%) and aorta calcification in 144 women (54%); high calcification scores were set at approximately 75% of the sample distribution (ie, at >/=10 for the coronary calcium score [n = 49 women] and at >100 for the aorta calcium score [n = 53 women]). Women with a history of recurrent major depression (n = 53) were more likely to have any coronary calcification or calcification in the high category at either site compared with women with a history of a single episode of depression or no depression. After stepwise forward adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors and sociodemographic characteristics, a history of recurrent major depression, compared with a single episode or no history, was associated with odds ratios (ORs) of 2.46 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.06-5.67) for any coronary calcification, 2.71 (95% CI, 1.08-6.81) for high coronary calcification, and 3.39 (95% CI, 1.34-8.63) for high aortic calcification. Further adjustments for waist-hip ratio reduced the association between history of recurrent depression and any calcification (OR, 2.24; 95% CI, 0.94-5.32) and high calcification (OR, 2.31; 95% CI, 0.89-5.99).


In this sample of asymptomatic middle-aged women without known coronary disease, recurrent major depression was independently associated with coronary and aortic calcification. Waist-hip ratio in part mediated the association. Our findings suggest that recurrent major depression may be a risk factor for early atherosclerosis in women.

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