A University College London study involving nearly 15,000 people in Scotland linked old-style antidepressants with 35% increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This research showing that antidepressants may be among important heart disease causes should be known by everyone using these medications.
Less Known Heart Disease Causes – Antidepressants
The correlation between antidepressants and heart disease isn’t exactly breaking news; previous findings have revealed that antidepressants can cause your arteries to thicken 400% faster than aging. But Dr. Mark Hamer, Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at UCL, says his recent study is “the first to contain a representative sample of the whole community, including elderly and unemployed participants, men and women, etc.”
The results may consequently be applied to the ever growing, diversifying community of antidepressant prescribers. In fact, pharmaceutical companies have been hard at work convincing people with back pain and even anxiety and sleeplessness to buy their products, too. Little do most of us know that even something as seemingly benign as Prozac thickens our arteries more quickly and efficiently than does aging. No wonder antidepressant use is part of the heart disease causes.
Antidepressants Thicken Arteries
“One of the strongest and best-studied factors that thickens someone’s arteries is age, and that happens at around 10 microns per year,” says Amit Shah, MD, a cardiology fellow at Emory University School of Medicine.
To examine the effects of genetics, Shah studied 513 middle-aged male twins with identical genetics but different risk factors (diet, smoking, and exercise). Of the 59 pairs of twins wherein one brother took antidepressants, the medicated brother—even taking into consideration previous heart attacks or strokes—usually had higher carotid intima-media thickness (IMT).
“In our study, users of antidepressants see an average of 40 micron increase in IMT,” reported Shah, “so their carotid arteries are in effect four years older.”
Unseen Effects of Antidepressants
Why the effect on blood vessels when all antidepressants are supposed to do is make you happy? Shah believes many commonly prescribed antidepressants—like Prozac and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)—affect serotonin and norepinephrine both in- and outside the brain.
“The body often compensates over time for drugs’ immediate effects,” Shah explains.
And we know by now that pharmaceutical companies don’t have our long-term health in mind.
Antidepressants certainly aren’t the only things helping to cause heart disease. Being overweight, drinking soda, ingesting toxic bisphenol-a, and even consuming fluoride also rest among heart disease causes. In addition to avoiding these triggers, adopt a healthy lifestyle with healthful foods: spices, olive oil, and turmeric have all been shown to help reduce heart disease risk.
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