Anxiety and depression are linked to cardiovascular health in young adults and researchers recommended that ways of addressing mood disorders might begin with employing heart health programmes such as exercise and weight management.
Researchers used data from the Emory Healthy Aging Study, a product of the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. Taking 18-34 years olds in the survey, the researchers first subdivided them by measures of heart health (0-14) based on American Heart Association metrics. The mean CVH score among participants was 10.4.
134 (15.2%) of these participants had moderate-to-severe anxiety, and 132 (15.0%) had moderate-to-severe depression.
Compared to those without anxiety or depression, these young adults with anxiety were less likely to meet ideal levels of physical activity, more likely to smoke, and had a higher body mass index.
Those with moderate-to-severe depression were less likely to have low levels of cholesterol, more likely to have lower levels of physical activity , more likely to smoke, have high blood pressure and higher body mass index.
The researchers, led by Sierra L. Patterson and from Emory and Duke Schools of Medicine, argued that those young adults with depression or anxiety were overwhelmed by the illness and so took less care of themselves, so measures to combat these illnesses might start by encouraging physical activity etc.
Chris Woollams, former Oxford University Biochemist, added, “We know that exercise increases the production of endorphins, the so called ‘Happy Hormones’ that affect mood. We know that exercise and diet affect the microbiome and increase numbers of bacteria that produce serotonin, the mood-enhancing hormone. Obesity is associated with bacteria that also link to poor sugar control and diabetes. So, no one should be surprised by the study findings or conclusions. Like all other illnesses, depression and anxiety start in the gut. It’s just another example of the gut-brain axis.”
- American Heart Association; EPI 2021; Depression and anxiety associated with heart health in younger adults.