Women with type 2 diabetes and depression may be at increased risk of heart disease

Women who have both depression and type 2 diabetes may be at an increased risk of dying from heart disease, according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health researchers.

The two conditions are often associated with one another. Previous studies have shown that the relationship is actually bi-directional. Having diabetes increases an individual's chances of becoming depressed, while depression ups the diabetes risk. In fact, the symptoms of depression affect anywhere from 20 to 25 percent of those with type 2 diabetes. This can be a dangerous relationship.

For the study, which was published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, researchers examined nearly 80,000 women between the ages of 54 and 79 for a period of six years. During the course of the study, 979 women died from cardiovascular disease.

The researchers found that women with depression were 44 percent more likely to die from heart disease, while those with diabetes had a 37 percent increased risk of death. However, participants who had both conditions were 2.7 times more likely than healthy women to die of cardiovascular problems during the study period.

While the exact reason for these associations remains to be determined, the researchers said that individuals with depression may have a more difficult time taking an interest in their own care, which may increase their risk of complications.

"It is generally suggested that depression is associated with poor glycemic control, an increased risk of diabetes complications, poor adherence to diabetes management by patients and isolation from the social network," the researchers wrote in their report.

They added that special attention should be paid to women with type 2 diabetes to help them avoid these complications. New strategies for providing them support could help improve their health.
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