The National Institute on Aging reports that depression is a common problem among older adults. Social Isolation brought on by the COVID -19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem. However, depression is not a normal part of aging and is treatable. New research suggests that improving cardiovascular (CV) health may also help in preventing the onset of depression in the elderly.
A new study used data from an ongoing 6-year multi-center randomized trial in Spain which analyzes the effect of a Mediterranean Diet on men aged 55-75 and women aged 60-75 with overweight or obesity. 6,545 individuals with no CV or endocrine disease at baseline were included in the current analysis. A CV risk score according to the Framingham-based REGICOR function was calculated for each person, dividing participants into low (LR), medium (MR), or high/very high (HR) CV risk groups. Depressive status was gauged using a questionnaire at baseline and after 2 years of follow-up.
At baseline, women in the HR group showed higher odds of depressive status than LR women (OR 1.78 95% CI 1.26-2.50). In addition, among all participants with baseline total cholesterol below 160 mg/mL, MR and HR individuals showed higher odds of depression than LR (MR: OR 1.77 95% CI 1.13-2.77; HR: OR 2.83 95% CI 1.25-6.42). On the contrary, among participants with total cholesterol of 280 mg/mL or higher, MR and HR individuals had a lower risk of depression than LR (MR: OR 0.26 95% CI 0.07-0.98; HR: OR 0.23 95% CI 0.05-0.95). After two years, during which time all individuals were instructed to follow a Mediterranean Diet as part of the trial, participants, on average, decreased their depressive status score, with the greatest decreases seen for MR and HR participants with high baseline cholesterol levels.
The authors conclude that high and very high CV risk are associated with depressive symptoms, especially in women, and that the role of other factors, such as adherence to the Mediterranean Diet, deserves further research.
The complete study may be read here.
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