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The data is atrociously clear that African American males are disproportionately impacted by both depression and cardiovascular disease. That’s why it’s pretty intriguing that Dr. Angelos Halaris of Loyola University Medical Center is proposing a new sub-specialty — psychocardiology — to diagnose and treat patients who suffer both depression and heart disease.
Dr. Angelos Halaris is a psychiatrist and says 40% to 60% of heart disease patients suffer clinical depression and 30-50% of patients who suffer clinical depression were at risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
The body’s immune system fights stress as it would fight a disease or infection. The immune system produces proteins cytokines, including interleukin-6. Initially, this inflammatory response protects against stress, but over time, a chronic inflammatory response can lead to arteriosclerosis — hardening of the arteries — and cardiovascular disease.
It’s a vicious cycle: depression triggers a chronic inflammation, which leads to heart disease, which causes depression, which leads to more heart disease, Halaris said.In his most recent study, Halaris and colleagues found that an inflammatory biomarker, interleukin-6, was significantly higher in the blood of 48 patients diagnosed with major depression than it was in 20 healthy controls.