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03-06-2010 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Study finds no link between low cholesterol and depression


Free abstract

MedWire News: Newly published research appears to refute any connection between low cholesterol levels and depression in cardiac patients.

A study published in the International Journal of Cardiology found no difference in levels of cholesterol or cholesterol subfractions between depressed and nondepressed patients, either generally or in clinically relevant subgroups.

The authors say that either there is no true link between cholesterol and depression or that the contemporary aggressive approach to lipid lowering is obscuring the effect.

The study was undertaken by Leah Bauer and Jeff Huffman, both from Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, who recruited patients admitted to the cardiac unit at Massachusetts General Hospital for acute coronary syndromes, congestive heart failure, or arrhythmia. All patients were screened using the Patient Health Questionnaire, with a score of 10 or greater being considered to indicate depression.

A total of 237 patients were enrolled, 112 of whom were depressed. Depressed and nondepressed patients did not differ with regard to baseline demographic or medical characteristics, the authors report.

Also, levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol were comparable between depressed and nondepressed participants.

This was true both for the overall cohort and in subgroups stratified by gender and admission diagnosis.

In linear regression, statin use was the only significant predictor of cholesterol levels.

The authors note that cholesterol levels were “quite low” in both groups, at a mean of 143 mg/dl, and that two-thirds of patients were taking a statin on admission.

“If a true underlying correlation between depressive symptoms and low cholesterol exists among cardiac patients, the aggressive cholesterol management that is now standard of care may be obscuring this effect,” they write.

“Future studies should continue to assess the connection between cholesterol and mood in persons with cardiovascular illness.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Joanna Lyford