Apr 02

The drugs used in chasing away blues could also make your arteries thicker, restricting blood flow and upping the risk of heart disease and stroke, a study co-authored by an Indian origin expert says.

Although depression is a risk factor for heart disease, the effect of anti-depressant is separate from depression itself, says study co-author Amit Shah, cardiology fellow at Emory University School of Medicine.

Twins are genetically the same but may be different when it comes to other risk factors such as diet, smoking and exercise, so studying them is a good way to distill out the effects of genetics, Shah says.

Researchers measured carotid intima-media thickness (IMT), the thickness of the lining of the main arteries in the neck, by ultrasound.

Among the 59 pairs of twins where only one brother took anti-depressants, the one taking the drugs tended to have higher IMT, even when standard heart disease risk factors were taken into account.

One of the strongest and best-studied factors that thickens someones arteries is age, and that happens at around 10 microns per year, Shah says.

In our study, users of antidepressants see an average 40 micron increase in IMT, so their carotid arteries are in effect four years older, adds Shah.

The data is being presented on April 5 at the American College of Cardiology meeting.

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Tags: Heart Disease , Stroke

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