21 September 2011

Depression increases risk of stroke

People who are depressed are at greater risk for suffering a stroke, a new study indicates.


People who are depressed are at greater risk for suffering a stroke, a new study indicates.

Harvard researchers pointed out that the findings could have a significant impact on public health since stroke is a leading cause of death and permanent disability.

Researchers analysed 28 previous studies, which involved a total of almost 318,000 people and 8,478 stroke cases. The investigators found that depression was associated with a 45% increased risk for stroke and a 55% raised risk for fatal stroke.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, also revealed that depression was linked to a 25% higher risk for ischemic stroke, which is caused by a blockage within a vessel supplying blood to the brain.

The researchers offered a number of explanations for the link between depression and stroke, including:

  • Having neuroendocrine (nervous and endocrine) and immune systems with inflammation.
  • Having poor health habits, such as smoking, being sedentary, not taking medication or eating an unhealthy diet.
  • Having other medical conditions that are also risk factors for stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure.

"In conclusion, this meta-analysis provides strong evidence that depression is a significant risk factor for stroke. Given the high prevalence and incidence of depression and stroke in the general population, the observed association between depression and stroke has clinical and public health importance," study author An Pan, of Harvard School of Public Health, and colleagues explained.

The study authors noted that more studies are needed to explore why depression increases the risk for stroke.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on risk factors for stroke.

(Copyright © 2010 HealthDay. All rights reserved.)


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Depression expert

Michael Simpson has been a senior psychiatric academic, researcher, and Professor in several countries, having worked at London University in the UK; McMaster University in Canada; Temple University in Philadelphia, USA.; and the University of Natal in South Africa.

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