A new study has found that high cardiovascular risk is associated with the symptoms of depression in older individuals, according to Science Daily.

The study, conducted by Sandra Martín-Peláez of the University of Granada, Spain, and her colleagues, was published Wednesday in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

Cardiovascular disease and depression are often interlinked due to similar risk factors, including oxidative stress and inflammation.

There is evidence that depression could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, but there are fewer studies analyzing the potential impact of cardiovascular health on developing depression.

The study looked at data from a 6-year multi-center randomized trial in Spain, which has been analyzing the effect of a Mediterranean Diet on men aged 55 to 75 and women aged 60 to 75 with overweight or obesity.

In the current analysis, more than 6,500 people with no cardiovascular or endocrine disease were included.

The researchers calculated a cardiovascular risk score using the Framingham-based REGICOR function. They divided participants into low (LR), medium (MR), or high/very high (HR) cardiovascular risk groups. They gauged depressive status using a questionnaire at baseline after 2 years of follow-up.

Women in the HR group showed higher risks of depressive status than women in the LR group. Additionally, among all participants with total cholesterol below 160 mg/mL, MR and HR individuals showed higher odds of depression than LR.

Among participants with total cholesterol of 280 mg/mL or higher, MR and HR individuals had a lower risk of depression than LR.

After two years, during which time all the participants were advised to follow a Mediterranean Diet as part of the study, there was a reduction in depressive status score. The greatest decrease was seen among MR and HR participants with high cholesterol levels.

The researchers concluded that high cardiovascular risk is associated with depressive symptoms and that the role of other risk factors, such as following the Mediterranean Diet, needs further research.

“High cardiovascular risk, especially in women, is associated with symptoms of depression in the elderly,” they wrote.