Trends Cardiovasc Med. 2019 May 11. Epub 2019 May 11. PMID: 31109802
Depression and cardiovascular disease: The deep blue sea of women's heart.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) constitutes a leading worldwide health problem, with increasing evidence of differences between women and men both in epidemiology, pathophysiology, clinical management, and outcomes. Data from the literature suggest that women experience a doubled incidence of CVD related deaths, while angina, heart failure and stroke are increasingly prevalent in females. About 20-25% of women go through depression during their life, and depressive symptoms have been considered a relevant emergent, non-traditional risk factor for CVD in this part of the general population. Underlying mechanisms explaining the link between depression and CVD may range from behavioral to biological risk factors, including sympathetic nervous system hyperactivity and impairment in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal function. However, the neuroendocrine-driven background could only partially explain the differences mentioned above for chronic systemic inflammation, altered hemostasis and modulation of cardiac autonomic control. In addition, some evidence also suggests the existence of gender-specific differences in biological responses to mental stress. Given these premises, we here summarize the current knowledge about depression and CVD relationship in women, highlighting the sex differences in physiopathology, clinical presentation and treatments.