Role of depressive symptoms in cardiometabolic diseases and subsequent transitions to all-cause mortality: an application of multistate models in a prospective cohort study

Background and purpose

The role of depression in the development and outcome of cardiometabolic diseases remains to be clarified. We aimed to examine the extent to which depressive symptoms affect the transitions from healthy to diabetes, stroke, heart disease and subsequent all-cause mortality in a middle-aged and elderly European population.


A total of 78 212 individuals aged ≥50 years from the Survey of Health Ageing and Retirement in Europe were included. Participants with any baseline cardiometabolic diseases including diabetes, stroke and heart disease were excluded. Depressive symptoms were measured by the Euro-Depression scale at baseline. Participants were followed up to determine the occurrence of cardiometabolic diseases and all-cause mortality. We used multistate models to estimate the transition-specific HRs and 95% CIs after adjustment of confounders.


During 500 711 person-years of follow-up, 4742 participants developed diabetes, 2173 had stroke, 5487 developed heart disease and 7182 died. Depressive symptoms were significantly associated with transitions from healthy to diabetes (HR: 1.12, 95% CI: 1.05 to 1.20), stroke (HR: 1.31, 95% CI: 1.18 to 1.44), heart disease (HR: 1.26, 95% CI: 1.18 to 1.34) and all-cause mortality (HR: 1.41, 95% CI: 1.34 to 1.49). After cardiometabolic diseases, depressive symptoms were associated with the increased risk of all-cause mortality in patients with diabetes (HR: 1.54, 95% CI: 1.25 to 1.89), patients who had stroke (HR: 1.29, 95% CI: 1.03 to 1.61) and patients with heart disease (HR: 1.21, 95% CI: 1.02 to 1.44).


Depressive symptoms increase the risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease, and affect the risk of mortality after the onset of these cardiometabolic conditions. Screening and treatment of depressive symptoms may have profound implications for the prevention and prognosis of cardiometabolic diseases.

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