Washington: A new study has linked depression with increased risk of stroke in women.
In six years of follow-up of women in the Nurses’ Health Study, researchers found that a history of depression was associated with a 29 percent increased risk of total stroke – even after considering other stroke risk factors.
Women who used anti-depressant medication — particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors— had a 39 percent increased risk of stroke.
Anti-depressant medication use may be an indicator of depression severity, said Kathryn Rexrode, M.D., the study’s senior author and Associate Physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Mass.
“I don’t think the medications themselves are the primary cause of the risk. This study does not suggest that people should stop their medications to reduce the risk of stroke,” she stated.
Compared to women without a history of depression, depressed women were more likely to be single, smokers and less physically active.
They were also slightly younger, had a higher body mass index and more coexisting conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
“Depression can prevent individuals from controlling other medical problems such as diabetes and hypertension, from taking medications regularly or pursuing other healthy lifestyle measures such as exercise,” said Rexrode, who is also Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
“All these factors could contribute to increased risk,” she added.