In Brief: Sedentary lifestyle can be a heart-stopper in people with depression

Published: August, 2011

Depression is as hard on the heart as it is on the mind. In healthy people, depression more than doubles the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. The impact of this mood disorder is even greater in people who already have heart disease. Although many factors contribute to heart damage in people who are depressed, the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS) suggests that one of the most significant is lack of physical activity.

The CHS enrolled nearly 6,000 Americans ages 65 and older. Participants completed periodic questionnaires about their mood and physical activity levels. By the end of the 10-year study, about half of the participants had died — nearly 1,200 of them from heart disease.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise

New subscriptions to Harvard Health Online are temporarily unavailable. Click the button below to learn about our other subscription offers.

Learn More »