Exercise: Good Medicine for Matters of the Heart
Getting enough omega-3 fats helps prevent both depression and heart disease
Depression and heart disease often go hand in hand: depression is more common in people with cardiovascular disease, and people with depression are more vulnerable to cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke. A new study found that exercise worked at least as well as an antidepressant medication in people with both depression and cardiovascular disease, and may have the added benefit of improving heart health.
Treating depression in people with heart disease
The new study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, included 101 sedentary adults with coronary artery disease who also had depression but were not being treated for it. They were divided into three groups that received one of three treatments:
Questionnaires were used to assess depressive symptoms throughout the 16 weeks of the study, and 24-hour ECG (electrocardiogram) readings were taken at the beginning and end to monitor changes in coronary artery health.
Exercise beats antidepressants in the most depressed
At the end of the study, the following results were noted:
"These data add to the growing body of research suggesting that exercise may be a viable alternative to traditional psychopharmacological treatments of depression," said the study's authors. They further emphasized the importance of their findings "in light of the growing evidence that depression is associated with increased risk of fatal and nonfatal events" in people with cardiovascular disease.
The connection between mood and heart
Exercise isn't the only treatment that might help both depression and heart disease. Here are some other things you can do for emotional and cardiovascular health:
(J Am Coll Cardiol 2012; epub ahead of print)
Maureen Williams, ND, completed her doctorate in naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University in Seattle and has been in private practice since 1995. With an abiding commitment to access to care, she has worked in free clinics in the US and Canada, and in rural clinics in Guatemala and Honduras where she has studied traditional herbal medicine. She currently lives and practices in Victoria, BC, and lectures and writes extensively for both professional and community audiences on topics including family nutrition, menopause, anxiety and depression, heart disease, cancer, and easing stress. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.