Depression and risk of heart disease 

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By Heather Gilmour, Health Information and Research Division, Statistics Canada

This analysis examines the relationship between depression and subsequent heart disease among Canadians aged 40 years or older.

The article is based on data from the household component of the National Population Health Survey (NPHS). This longitudinal survey, conducted by Statistics Canada,  follows the same group of people every two years since 1994/1995.

This article was released July 16, 2008 in Health Reports, Vol. 19, No. 3.


For the first time, national population–based data are used to investigate the association between depression and heart disease incidence in Canada. This article examines whether individuals initially free of heart disease who experienced depression at some time over the course of the study were at an increased risk of being diagnosed with or dying from heart disease compared with people who did not experience depression.

In addition to sociodemographic characteristics, common risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure, diabetes, body mass index, smoking status, physical activity, alcohol use, and hormone replacement therapy (women only) were controlled in the analysis.

The results from 7 cycles of the NPHS show that women with depression were at greater risk of heart disease, even when other risk factors were taken into account. Men with depression did not have a statistically significant increased risk of heart disease.

Given the prevalence of depression and its association with heart disease, these findings are relevant to population health and prevention.