Depression predicts morbidity and mortality among individuals who have coronary heart disease (CHD), and there is increasing evidence that depression may also act as an antecedent to CHD. The studies that have reported a relationship between depression and CHD incidence or mortality either were restricted to men only or analyzed women and men together. The present investigation was conducted to evaluate the differential effect depression may have on CHD incidence and mortality in women and men.
We analyzed data from 5007 women and 2886 men enrolled in the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I) who were free of CHD at the 1982-1984 interview and who had completed the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). Participants were evaluated from the 1982 interview date either until the end of the study (1992 interview date) or until the occurrence of a CHD event. Using CHD incidence and CHD mortality (International Classification of Disease, Ninth Revision, codes 410-414) as the outcome variables, Cox proportional hazards regression models were developed to evaluate the relative risk (RR) of CHD incidence and mortality in the depressed women and men separately, controlling for standard CHD risk factors.
The women experienced 187 nonfatal and 137 fatal events, compared with 187 nonfatal and 129 fatal events among the men. The adjusted RR of CHD incidence among depressed women was 1.73 (95% confidence internal [CI], 1.11-2.68) compared with nondepressed women. Depression had no effect on CHD mortality in the women (RR, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.40-1.48). The adjusted RR of CHD incidence among depressed men was 1.71 (95% CI, 1.14-2.56) compared with nondepressed men. Depressed men also had an increased risk of CHD mortality compared with their nondepressed counterparts, with an adjusted RR of 2.34 (95% CI, 1.54-3.56).
In this sample, while controlling for possible confounding factors, depression was associated with an increased risk of CHD incidence in both men and women, as well as CHD mortality in men. Depression had no effect on CHD mortality in women.