People with heart disease are more likely to suffer from depression, and the opposite is also true. Now, scientists at the University of Cambridge (UK) believe they have identified a link between these two conditions: inflammation - the body's response to negative environmental factors, such as stress. While inflammation is a natural response necessary to fight off infection, chronic inflammation (which may result from psychological stress as well as lifestyle factors such as smoking, excessive alcohol intake, physical inactivity, and obesity) is harmful. The link between heart disease and depression is well documented. People who have a heart attack are at a significantly higher risk of experiencing depression. Yet, scientists have been unable to determine whether this is due to the two conditions sharing common genetic factors or whether shared environmental factors provide the link. "It is possible that heart disease and depression share common underlying biological mechanisms, which manifest as two different conditions in two different organs--the cardiovascular system and the brain," says Dr Golam Khandaker (https://www.neuroscience.cam.ac.uk/directory/profile.php?Golam), PhD, a Wellcome Trust Intermediate Clinical Fellow at the University of Cambridge in the UK. "Our work suggests that inflammation could be a shared mechanism for these conditions." In a study published on March 19, 2019 in Molecular Psychiatry, Dr. Khandaker and colleague Dr Stephen Burgess led a team of researchers from Cambridge who examined this link by studying data relating to almost 370,000 middle-aged participants of UK Biobank.
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