ScienceDirect.com - Brain, Behavior, and Immunity - Anti-depressant medication use and C-reactive protein: Results from two population-based studies:
'via Blog this'
After reading the abstract of this paper recently, having first seen it when first published, an idea occurred to me. briefly, some British public health researchers looked at the relationship between major depression & cardiovascular disease risk in around 8 000 Scottish people.
Unfortunately, it's been known for a while that having depression shortens your expected life span, especially through an increase in heart attacks & strokes. This was not a nice fact for me, being a depression sufferer as I obviously can't just say "I'll improve my life expectancy by NOT being depressed".
However, this 2010 paper suggests that the risk is only significantly elevated in people who have primarily taken the old tricyclic antidepressants [the ones like Tryptanol that seem to make you feel better emotionally but also make you feel like a slug & paralyse the bowels!]. People who had taken SSRIs [like the much-maligned Prozac], did NOT have nearly the same risk of heart disease.
Briefly, the hypothesis of the authors was that increased cardiovascular risk was "carried" by higher blood levels of a substance named "C-reactive protein" [CRP} which is a "marker" of inflammation in the body- where the body is mustering immune resources against some real or sensed invasion. On an everyday level we experience inflammation when we catch a germ [eg. red & swollen nose with a cold] or when our body is injured [eg. my finger going red & swollen when my elderly, foul-mouthed cat bit me while I tried to administer a life-saving pill]. I understand that the inflammation measured indirectly by levels of CRP is more subtle and happens in blood vessel walls etc when the cells are crusted with fatty deposits or damaged by the ripping apart that calcium deposits cause when their anchoring is disturbed by strong blood flow [eg. high blood pressure].
To stop meandering with explanations, I think the increased heart disease in the depressed people who mainly took tricyclic antidepressants is related to their slug-like side effects, independent of the fact of BEING depressed. Taking most of these drugs slows down everything you do, including your thoughts. The notices on the packets of tablets that say "This medication may interfere with the ability to drive a vehicle or operate machinery", are very true and relate to the slug-like effects. The whole body seems to become heavier and most people on tricyclics for more than a few weeks DO become heavier. We all know the effect of weight increase on heart attack risk; well, tricyclics are probably slowing down the whole body- slowing the expansion & contraction of the heart & blood vessels just as they slow down the muscle contractions & mucus secretions in the bowels. Blood vessels might become clogged up more quickly, producing the higher levels of that inflammatory indicator, CRP.
Are my somewhat simplistic connections sounding quite sensible, or am I chasing entirely the wrong clues?
I'd love people to comment, particularly if they know something about the biochemistry of heart disease!