The Emory team studied 81 young and middle-aged patients who had a recent heart attack. All subjects underwent an acute emotional stress task in addition to a standard exercise stress test. The researchers measured arterial stiffness with a Pulse Wave Velocity system, at rest and 60 minutes after stress, and calculated stress-induced changes in arterial stiffness.
Depressive symptoms significantly increased arterial stiffness induced by mental stress, but had no effect on arterial stiffness with exercise. These results were not explained by differences in cardiovascular risk factors or heart disease severity.
"Depression may cause worsened arterial stiffness with stressful conditions, but not with exercise," says lead author Pratik Pimple, MBBS, from Emory's Rollins School of Public Health.
"These findings may help explain why depression is linked to adverse cardiovascular outcomes," adds Viola Vaccarino, MD, PhD, the study director and the Wilton Looney Chair of Cardiovascular Research in the Department of Epidemiology at Rollins.
Complete findings will be presented at the American Psychosomatic Society's Annual Meeting on March 13, 2014 in San Francisco.
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