Depression: Brief change in diet may relieve symptoms

In the first study of its type, researchers conclude that even a brief shift in dietary habits can alleviate the symptoms of depression in young adults. The findings offer hope, but more work is needed.

Science has now clearly established the impact of poor diet on overall physical health.

Consuming large amounts of processed and sugary foods increases the risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

More recently, researchers have begun to focus on the impact of healthful or unhealthful eating on mental health.

Full story at Medical News Today

Simple test can tell if you’re stressed out

Stress is often called “the silent killer” because of its stealthy and mysterious effects on everything from heart disease to mental health.

Now researchers at the University of Cincinnati have developed a new test that can easily and simply measure common stress hormones using sweat, blood, urine or saliva. Eventually, they hope to turn their ideas into a simple device that patients can use at home to monitor their health.

The results were published this month in the journal American Chemical Society Sensors.

“I wanted something that’s simple and easy to interpret,” said Andrew Steckl, an Ohio Eminent Scholar and professor of electrical engineering in UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Full story at Science Daily

Depression increases risk of early death in older adults

A research team designed a study to investigate the role depression symptoms play in an increased risk of death over time. The team also examined the role heart disease and stroke play in the link between depression symptoms and increased risk of death.

As we age, we become more likely to experience symptoms of depression. Research shows that depression’s symptoms can be linked to a higher risk for death. Yet often, older adults’ symptoms of depression may be missed by healthcare professionals.

What’s more, symptoms of depression have been linked to heart disease and stroke in middle-aged and older adults. Researchers suggest that the depression-heart disease link could play a role in the increased risk of death among older adults who have symptoms of depression. There’s also a known link between depression and deaths from cancer and falls in older adults. These connections might contribute to an increased risk of death for older adults, researchers suggest.

Full story at Science Daily

Mental stress may cause reduced blood flow in hearts of young women with heart disease

Younger women with coronary heart disease and mental stress are more susceptible to myocardial ischemia (reduced blood flow to the heart muscle, which can lead to a heart attack), compared to men and older patients, according to new research in Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Coronary heart disease is a leading cause of death in American men and women, but studies show that younger women have higher rates of complications and death after a heart attack compared to their male counterparts.

“Younger women tend to have quite a lot of stress in their lives. Many of them have full-time jobs and at the same time have numerous responsibilities at home; financial hardship, as well as depression and anxiety which are common in this group,” said Viola Vaccarino, M.D., Ph.D., lead study author, professor and chair of the department of epidemiology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. “Clinicians should ask about stress and emotional difficulties in these patients and recommend ways to help, such as finding time to relax and exercise.”

Full story of mental stress and blood flow in heart disease at Science Daily

Lipid testing underutilized in adults taking antipsychotic medications

Too few adults taking antipsychotic medications are being screened for abnormalities in lipids, which include cholesterol and triglycerides, new research from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus finds.

The biggest gap in screening is among adults age 40 and younger, the group for whom early detection and intervention has been shown to be effective when additional cardiovascular risk is present.

Adults with serious mental illness die 20 to 30 years earlier than their peers, largely due to increased risk for diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease. Taking antipsychotic medication increases that risk. The American Diabetes Association and American Psychiatric Association recommends more intensive diabetes and cholesterol lipid screening for patients receiving antipsychotics, but rates of screening have remained low.

Full story of lipid testing in adults taking antipsychotic medications at Science Daily

Let it go: Reaction to stress more important than its frequency

How you perceive and react to stressful events is more important to your health than how frequently you encounter stress, according to health researchers from Penn State and Columbia University.

It is known that stress and negative emotions can increase the risk of heart disease, but the reasons why are not well understood. One potential pathway linking stress to future heart disease is a dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system — a case of a person’s normally self-regulated nervous system getting off track.

Nancy L. Sin and colleagues wanted to find out if daily stress and heart rate variability — a measure of autonomic regulation of the heart — are linked. Heart rate variability is the variation in intervals between consecutive heartbeats.

Full story of reaction to stress and health at Science Daily

Back to school and back to sleep

Sleep matters for kids, especially when they are stressed. A new study led by researchers Jinshia Ly, Jennifer J. McGrath and Jean-Philippe Gouin from Concordia University’s Centre for Clinical Research in Health and the PERFORM Centre shows that poor sleep might explain how stress impacts health in kids.

A good night’s sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep might buffer the impact of stress on kids’ cortisol level, which is a hormone produced in the adrenal gland to regulate the body’s cardiovascular, metabolic and immune systems. While short-term exposure to cortisol prepares the body for the “fight or flight” response, long-term exposure to cortisol can put people at risk for health problems, like heart diseases, weight gain and depression.

Full story of stress and getting sleep at Science Daily

Almost three-quarters of patients with no coronary heart disease have persistent symptoms

Around one in five patients with chest pain will have no obvious signs of coronary artery disease after investigation, and their symptoms are unlikely to have a physical cause.

But it is not always clear who these patients are, and they often undergo extensive and expensive tests to find out that nothing is wrong with their hearts.

The German authors therefore wanted to test the prevalence of physical and mental symptoms in 253 patients who had been investigated for chest pain/shortness of breath/palpitations and found to have no coronary artery disease.

Full story of persistent symptoms with heart disease patients at Science Daily