Add depression to the list of risk factors for heart disease.

That's the thrust of a study by Robert Carney, associate professor of psychology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.Better Homes and Gardens magazine reports that Carney interviewed 50 heart patients and found about one in five suffered depression. That's much higher than the 4 percent of the general population who are depressed. In most of the cases Carney reviewed, the depression started even before the patients experienced symptoms of heart disease, chest pain or a feeling of breathlessness after mild exercise, for example. The study also revealed that even those with mild heart disease had suffered depression.

Finally, Carney found that depressed heart patients face grave future risks as well. They were twice as likely to suffer a heart attack or other potentially deadly turn for the worse.

The researcher recommends that anyone diagnosed with heart disease be checked for signs of depression. Restoring a heart patient's mental health may be as critical as dispensing the right medicine.