People living with HIV who have major depression are more likely to have a heart attack.

Publishing their findings in JAMA Cardiology, researchers studied 26,144 veterans with HIV who did not have cardiovascular disease when they entered the study, between 1998 and 2003. At that point, 4,853 (19 percent) of the individuals were identified as having major depressive disorder. The study cohort members were participants in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Aging Cohort Study between April 2003 and December 2009.

Participants were followed for a median 5.8 years. During that time, the group experienced 490 heart attacks.

After adjusting the data for demographic factors, cardiovascular disease risk factors and HIV-specific factors, the researchers found that those with major depressive disorder had a 30 percent greater risk of a heart attack compared with those who did not have the mental illness. The researchers further adjusted the data for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, kidney disease, alcohol or cocaine abuse or dependence and hemoglobin levels (low hemoglobin may indicate anemia) and found that major depressive disorder was associated with a 25 percent increased risk of heart attack.

To read the study, click here.

To read a press release about the study, click here.