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The predominantly white Nurses' Health Study may underestimate it, Williams said. "If anything, the impact in African-American women is probably greater," he said, adding that it's time for the next step: A study testing whether properly treating depression lowers the risk.
Why might depression have that effect? The study found that the more severe the women's reported depression symptoms, the more likely she was to have traditional heart risk factors. Also, stresses like depression have been linked to such physical effects as a higher resting heart rate.
Perhaps a more straightforward reason: Depression can make people do a worse job taking care of themselves. Indeed, the American Heart Association last year recommended that everyone who already has heart disease be regularly screened for depression -- because depressed patients may skip their medications, sit indoors instead of exercising, and eat particularly poorly.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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