A few days ago, Guo Xiuhua, a professor at the School of Public Health of Capital Medical University, and others reported on the latest analysis of the Chinese Health and Elderly Tracking Survey in the Journal of the American Medical Association. They found that depressive symptoms were severe, as well as poor sleep and loneliness. The risk of vascular disease is significantly increased.
In middle-aged and elderly people, depression symptoms are common. The results of the previously published China Health and Pension Tracking Survey showed that among Chinese residents ≥45 years old, about 30% of men and 45% of women have symptoms of depression.
The China Health and Senior Care Tracking Survey was launched in 2011 and included 12,417 middle-aged and elderly people ≥45 years of age and no baseline heart disease or stroke. The proportion of men and women is about half. During an average follow-up of 4 years, 1088 people, or 8.8%, developed cardiovascular disease.
Increased depressive symptoms and increased risk of cardiovascular disease
Depression scale evaluation shows that 26% of middle-aged and elderly people have severe depressive symptoms. Among this group of people, hopeless (35.9%), restless sleep (32.7%), and troubled by small things (31.7%) are the most common.
Researchers found that as depression symptoms worsen, the risk of cardiovascular disease also increases. After adjusting for confounding factors, people with severe depressive symptoms increased their risk of heart disease and stroke by 36% and 45%, respectively.
The researchers said that the mechanism of depression symptoms and cardiovascular disease may include many aspects, such as autonomic dysfunction, inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, platelet activation and thrombosis, life behavior, cardiometabolic risk factors, etc.
Long-term loneliness hurts blood vessels
There have been many studies evaluating the relationship between depressive symptoms and the risk of cardiovascular disease, but few studies have explored the impact of a single depressive symptom on cardiovascular risk.
China’s health care and follow-up survey found that among the 10 depression symptoms, poor sleep and feeling lonely are related to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. People with these two symptoms have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease by 21%.
Many people believe that autism is just a common mental illness, but long-term loneliness is particularly harmful to blood vessels. People with autism often have poor sleep quality, lack of confidence in social interactions, and insecurity, which will affect their health, causing the level of systemic stress hormones and blood pressure to rise, which can lead to heart disease and stroke.
As confirmed by a research conducted by the University of Chicago, loneliness can weaken the human immune system and make people more likely to get sick. Compared with socially active people, lonely people have 30 mmHg higher blood pressure, three times the probability of suffering from heart disease and stroke, and two times the probability of dying from heart disease and stroke.
Loneliness is linked to Alzheimer’s disease
Loneliness will reduce a person’s learning ability and memory, and may lead to depression. Loneliness is also related to difficulty falling asleep and worsening of Alzheimer’s disease.
A study by a research team from the University of Copenhagen Hospital in Denmark also showed that people who feel lonely are three times more likely to have anxiety and depression symptoms than others, and the overall quality of life of lonely people is much worse than that of others. For high-risk groups such as elderly people living alone and lack of social attention for a long time, more care should be given to them to keep them away from loneliness and reduce the threat of cardiovascular disease.