Experts have warned that mental health impacts the whole body with depression as likely to trigger a heart attack as obesity.
Researchers at the Technical University of Munich studied the health records of 3,428 male patients aged between 45 and 74. The records accounted for a period of ten years.
“There is little doubt that depression is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases,” says lead researcher Professor Karl-Heniz Ladwig.
They found that of the general population, depression accounts for around 15 per cent of cardiovascular deaths.
“That is comparable to the other risk factors, such as hypercholesterolemia, obesity and smoking,” says Professor Ladwig.
The researchers say the results, published in the journal Atherosclerosis, show that diagnostic testing should check for depression in high-risk heart patients.
More than 350 million people worldwide are thought to be affected by depression.