Risk of coronary heart disease events over 15 years among older adults with depressive symptoms

Jessica M. Brown, Jesse C. Stewart, Timothy E. Stump, Christopher M. Callahan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Scopus citations


Objectives: To determine whether depression status is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) events, defined as CHD death or nonfatal acute myocardial infarction (MI). Design: Prospective cohort study. Setting: An urban primary care practice. Participants: Two thousand seven hundred twenty-eight adults (71.4% women, 65.5% black), age 60 years and older, who were screened for depression between 1991 and 1993. Measurements: Depressive symptom severity at baseline was assessed by the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). Data regarding baseline demographic and clinical variables, as well as laboratory evidence of acute MI, were obtained from an electronic medical record system. All-cause mortality and CHD death were determined from the National Death Index through 2006. Results: A total of 423 (15.5%) participants reported elevated symptoms of depression (CES-D score 16). During the 13 to 16 years of follow-up, 1,646 (60.3%) individuals died from any cause, and 727 (26.6%) died from CHD or suffered an acute MI. Cox proportional hazards models revealed that individuals with elevated depressive symptoms were more likely to experience a CHD event, even after adjustment for demographics and comorbid health conditions (relative risk = 1.46, 95% confidence interval: 1.20-1.77). Depression status was also a significant predictor of all-cause mortality in adjusted models. Conclusions: We report the longest prospective study to date to examine depression status as an independent risk factor for CHD among a cohort of older adults including large numbers of women and underrepresented minorities. The present findings underscore the need to consider depression as a common and modifiable risk factor for CHD events among older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)721-729
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2011


  • Cardiovascular disease
  • coronary heart disease
  • depression
  • elderly
  • myocardial infarction mortality
  • primary care
  • prospective study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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