Background and Purpose-: Depression and hopelessness are associated with increased cardiovascular disease (CVD) morbidity and mortality; however, few studies have compared these constructs early in the atherogenic process, particularly in women or minorities. Methods-: This cross-sectional study examined associations of hopelessness and depressive symptoms with carotid artery intimal-medial thickening (IMT) in 559 women (62% white, 38% black; mean±SD age, 50.2±2.8 years) without evidence of clinical CVD from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN) Heart Study. Hopelessness was measured by 2 questionnaire items; depressive symptoms were measured with the 20-item Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. Mean and maximum IMT were assessed by B-mode ultrasonography of the carotid arteries. Results-: Increasing hopelessness was significantly related to higher mean (P=0.0139) and maximum (P=0.0297) IMT in regression models adjusted for age, race, site, income, and CVD risk factors. A weaker pattern of associations was noted for depressive symptoms and mean (P=0.1056) and maximum (P=0.0691) IMT. Modeled simultaneously in a risk factor-adjusted model, hopelessness was related to greater mean IMT (P=0.0217) and maximum IMT (P=0.0409), but depressive symptoms were unrelated to either outcome (P>0.4). No interactions with race or synergistic effects of depressive symptoms and hopelessness were observed. Conclusions-: Among middle-aged women, higher levels of hopelessness are associated with greater subclinical atherosclerosis independent of age, race, income, CVD risk factors, and depressive symptoms.
- Carotid intimal medial thickness