Depression may be up to four times as common for people with RA compared to the general population, said Dr. Ivana Hollan of the Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Lillehammer, Norway.
“Emotional changes seem to have a causal role in cardiovascular disease,” Hollan, who was not involved in the new research, told Reuters Health by email.
Depression increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, and among those who have cardiovascular disease, depression predicts worse disease outcomes, she said.
The treatment of psychosocial conditions, such as depression, “appears important as these conditions have health effects beyond their impact on mood,” Hollan said.
Based on this study, RA patients should try to reduce stresses in their lives, perhaps with counseling, Ganz said.
“Lifestyle improvements (exercise, healthy diet, weight control, cessation of smoking) should be encouraged and pharmacological approaches (e.g. statins for cholesterol reduction, aspirin) should be considered to reduce cardiovascular risk,” he said.