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COLUMBUS, Ohio, Sep 08, 2005 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Depression may worsen heart disease by increasing levels of an inflammation-causing protein, new research suggests.
In a study of 32 people with heart failure, the 14 patients who felt the most depressed had nearly twice the levels of this protein in their blood.
The protein is officially tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), one of a group of proteins called cytokines, chemical messengers that are mobilized when the body is injured or has an infection. These cytokines often cause inflammation in their effort to repair an injured or infected area of the body, researchers say.
"People with heart failure typically have much higher TNF-alpha levels than people without the disease," said Amy Ferketich, the study's lead author and an assistant professor of public health at Ohio State. "But depression seems to make levels of this cytokine even higher, which is bad for patients."
In the case of heart failure, this inflammation makes it even more difficult for the heart to pump blood
Copyright 2005 by United Press International.