According to information found in a new study conducted by researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the University of California in San Francisco, peripheral artery disease (PAD) is linked to depression. The results of this study can be found online in the Journal of the American Heart Association. For this study, the researchers tracked the 1,024 patients with coronary artery disease for about seven years as part of the Heart and Soul Study.

“We discovered that there was an association between depression and PAD at baseline, and also found that the patients who were depressed at the beginning of the study had a higher likelihood of developing PAD during follow-up at seven years,” said Marlene Grenon, M.D., C.M., a vascular surgeon at UCSF.

“These findings add to the growing body of research showing the importance of depression in both the development and progression of PAD,” said senior author Beth Cohen, M.D., M.A.S. “This also emphasizes the need for medical providers to be attentive to the mental health of their patients who have developed, or who are at risk for, PAD.”

Another thing that the researchers found was that some of the PAD risk was linked to risk factors that can be altered by each patient (smoking, sedentary lifestyles).

“We still don’t know which comes first,” said Grenon. “Is it that patients with PAD become depressed because their mobility is impaired, or that people who are depressed engage in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and lack of exercise, and are thus more at risk of developing PAD?”

Paxil and Effexor are antidepressant medications that are used to treat depression and can be just as dangerous to the patients as the arterial conditions. Both Paxil and Effexor have been known to cause not only suicidal thoughts and behavior, but also violent thoughts and behavior. The pills can also cause babies born to women who take the drug while pregnant to be born with birth defects including PPHN, oral clefts, spina bifida and heart, lung and brain defects.