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Combined influence of depressive symptoms and systemic inflammation on all-cause and cardiovascular mortality: evidence for differential effects by gender in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

  • Samantha Lawes (a1), Panayotes Demakakos (a1), Andrew Steptoe (a1), Glyn Lewis (a2) and Livia A. Carvalho (a3)...



Depressive symptoms and inflammation are risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and mortality. We investigated the combined association of these factors with the prediction of CVD and all-cause mortality in a representative cohort of older men and women.


We measured C-reactive protein (CRP) and depressive symptoms in 5328 men and women aged 52–89 years in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Depressive symptoms were measured using the eight-item Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. CRP was analysed from peripheral blood. Mortality was ascertained from national registers and associations with depressive symptoms and inflammation were estimated using Cox proportional hazard models.


We identified 112 CVD related deaths out of 420 all-cause deaths in men and 109 CVD related deaths out of 334 all-cause deaths in women over a mean follow-up of 7.7 years. Men with both depressive symptoms and high CRP (3–20 mg/L) had an increased risk of CVD mortality (hazard ratio; 95% confidence interval: 3.89; 2.04–7.44) and all-cause mortality (2.40; 1.65–3.48) after adjusting for age, socioeconomic variables and health behaviours. This considerably exceeds the risks associated with high CRP alone (CVD 2.43; 1.59–3.71, all-cause 1.49; 1.20–1.84). There was no significant increase in mortality risk associated with depressive symptoms alone in men. In women, neither depressive symptoms or inflammation alone or the combination of both significantly predicted CVD or all-cause mortality.


The combination of depressive symptoms and increased inflammation confers a considerable increase in CVD mortality risk for men. These effects appear to be independent, suggesting an additive role.

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      Combined influence of depressive symptoms and systemic inflammation on all-cause and cardiovascular mortality: evidence for differential effects by gender in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing
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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Livia A. Carvalho, E-mail:


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