Washington D.C.: Turns out, estrogen may help in protecting against heart failure-related depression by preventing the production of inflammation-causing chemicals in the brain.
Research suggests that people with heart failure, including those who survive heart attacks, are two to three times more likely to suffer from depression than the general population.
The reason for heart failure-related depression is thought to increase inflammation in the brain.
Researchers from the University of Ottawa Heart Institute and Brain and Mind Institute in Canada studied a rat model of heart failure after a heart attack. Adult female rats without ovaries mimicking menopause were compared to adult males and adult females with ovaries.
The animals were given several standardised tests to assess depression-like behavior, learning, memory and the ability to experience pleasure.
The male rats, but not the female rats, with heart failure showed signs of depression and brain inflammation compared to their controls. In contrast, the menopausal females displayed higher rates of depression-like behavior than all of the males studied.
However, the group receiving estrogen showed no depression–their levels were on par with the control females with ovaries–and no increase in inflammation in brain areas involved in mood and pleasure.
The full findings are present in the American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology.