Male depression 'is as deadly as heart disease'

Depression in men is as deadly as obesity and heart disease, according to new research.

Scientists from Helmholtz Zentrum München, the Technical University of Munich and the German Centre for Cardiovascular Disease found that around 15% of deaths related to cardiovascular disease were caused by mental illness.

Alarmingly, men who suffer from depression were nearly just as likely to develop heart problems as if they were suffering from high cholesterol.

And only those with high blood pressure and smokers are at a greater risk, according to the report, which was published in science journal Atherosclerosis.

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Researcher Professor Karl-Heinz Ladwig said: “Our investigation shows that the risk of a fatal cardiovascular disease due to depression is almost as great as that due to elevated cholesterol levels or obesity.”

The research team tested 3,428 male patients between the ages of 45 and 74, observing their development over a decade.

Professor Ladwig said: “Our data show that depression has a medium effect size within the range of major, non-congenital risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.”

Scientists are now calling for all patients at high risk of heart problems to get checked out for depression as a result of its potential to increase the risk of fatal cardiovascular disease.

World Health Organisation statistics show that some 350 million people suffer from depression worldwide.

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