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PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e52771. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052771. Epub 2012 Dec 26.

Depressive symptoms and cardiovascular health by the American Heart Association's definition in the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study.

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Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health, Columbia University, New York, New York, United States of America.



Depressive symptoms are associated with increased incident and recurrent cardiovascular events. In 2010, the American Heart Association published the Life's Simple 7, a metric for assessing cardiovascular health as measured by 4 health behaviors (smoking, physical activity, body mass index, diet) and 3 biological measures (cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose). The association between depressive symptoms and the Life's Simple 7 has not yet been explored.


Data from 20,093 participants ≥45 years of age who enrolled in the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study between 2003 and 2007 and who had complete data available on Life's Simple 7 components were used for these analyses. The prevalence of ideal, intermediate, and poor health on each Life's Simple 7 component and total Life's Simple 7 scores were compared between participants with and without depressive symptoms. Depressive symptoms were measured using the 4-item Centers for Epidemiologic Studies of Depression scale.


Participants with depressive symptoms were more likely to have poor levels on each of the Life's Simple 7 components other than cholesterol [adjusted prevalence ratios (95% CI): smoking 1.41 (1.29-1.55); physical activity 1.38 (1.31-1.46); body mass index 1.09 (1.04-1.15); diet 1.08 (1.06-1.10); blood pressure 1.11 (1.02-1.21); glucose 1.24 (1.09-1.41)]. There was a graded association between increasing depressive symptoms and lower total Life's Simple 7 score.


Depressive symptoms are associated with worse cardiovascular health on the overall Life's Simple 7 and on individual components representing both health behaviors and biological factors.

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