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Comorbid cardiovascular disease and major depression among ethnic and racial groups in the United States

  • Hector M. González (a1) (a2) and Wassim Tarraf (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 07 January 2013

Background: To describe and examine the distribution, disability, and treatment associated with comorbid cardiovascular disease and major depressive disorder (CVD/MDD) among middle-aged and older ethnic/racial groups in the United States.

Methods: Cross-sectional data from a national probability sample of household resident adults (18 years and older; N = 16,423) living in the 48 coterminous United States were analyzed. We defined comorbid CVD/MDD as the presence of CVD (e.g. diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke) among adults who met MDD criteria at or after age 50 years.

Results: Two-thirds of middle-aged and older American adults meeting criteria major depression at or after age 50 years also reported a diagnosis of comorbid CVD. Blacks were most likely to meet our comorbid CVD/MDD (74.4%) criteria. The disease burden of depression was also highest among Black respondents. Differences in treatment due to race/ethnicity and comorbidity were not statistically significant.

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that among middle-aged and older US adults meeting MDD criteria more than half would also report a comorbid CVD. Comorbid CVD/MDD rates varied between the considered ethnic/race groups. Functional impairment associated with comorbid CVD/MDD was higher than MDD alone; however, depression care rates did not differ remarkably. Among middle-aged and older adults meeting MDD criteria, comorbid CVD may be the rule rather than the exception.

Corresponding author
Correspondence should be addressed to: Hector M. González, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences, Institute of Gerontology, Wayne State University, 87 East Ferry Street, 226 Knapp Building, Detroit, Michigan 48202, USA. Phone: (313) 577-2297; Fax: (313) 875-0127. Email:
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International Psychogeriatrics
  • ISSN: 1041-6102
  • EISSN: 1741-203X
  • URL: /core/journals/international-psychogeriatrics
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