Harvard Mental Health Letter

Depression and heart disease in women

Treating this mood disorder may benefit the heart as well as the mind.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women. Close to 43 million women in the United States have some form of cardiovascular disease — a term that includes both heart disease and stroke — and every year nearly 422,000 die of it. That's more than succumb annually to all forms of cancer combined. Heart disease and stroke are also a major cause of life-altering disabilities.

Several behaviors and conditions — smoking, poor diet, physical inactivity, high cholesterol, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes — increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Clinicians routinely screen their patients for these modifiable risk factors and recommend ways to address them.

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