The Effects of Cardiovascular Risk Factors on Depression in Elderly Mexican Americans




Edwars, Melissa
Yadav, Menaka
Johnson, Leigh
Bryant, Sid


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Objectives: The Mexican American population is the fastest growing segment of the aging population in the United States and as such they face a disproportionate burden of health issues such as cardiovascular disease (CVD) and depression. Although evidence exists linking depression and CVD, the link between risk factors for CVD and their association with depression have not been explored, especially among the Mexican American population. This study seeks to look at the relationship between depression and CVD risk factors specifically among the Mexican American population. Methods: Data were analyzed from 525 participants (High CVD n=159; Low CVD n=131) from the Health and Aging Brain among Latino Elders (HABLE) study. Risk factors for CVD include hypertension, dyslipidemia and diabetes mellitus. A CVD risk score was created combining the risk factors with the high CVD group including all three risk factors and the low CVD group consisting of just one risk factor. Medical diagnosis was based on clinical lab work. Depression was measured through the use of the Geriatric Depression Scale and its associated four subscales (dysphoria, meaninglessness, apathy, and cognitive impairment). Linear regressions were utilized to analyze the relationship between CVD risk factors and depression. Covariates included age, gender and education. Results: Within the total sample, overall CVD risk was shown to be significantly associated with increased apathy (B[SE]= 0.17[0.07], t=2.3, p=0.01). When stratified by level of CVD risk, those in the high CVD risk group showed a significant positive association with total GDS score (B[SE]= 1.68[0.67], t=2.50, p=0.013) as well as with dysphoria (B[SE]=0.66[0.31], t= 2.17, p=0.03), apathy (B[SE]=0.36[.15], t=2.51, p=0.012) and cognitive impairment (B[SE]= 0.36[.17], t=2.20, p=0.05). The low CVD risk group showed no significant correlations to the GDS or it’s associated subscales. Conclusion: Hypertension, dyslipidemia and diabetes mellitus, all of which are risk factors for CVD were found to be associated with depression among Mexican American elders. However, this association was specific to level of risk, with the high risk CVD group showing the greatest link with geriatric depression as well as with its associated subscales (dysphoria, apathy, and cognitive impairment).