Long-term depression could double stroke risk

15 May 2015

Having persistent symptoms of depression could significantly increase the risk of having a stroke for those over the age of 50, a new study has suggested.

Published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the study found that the increased risk remains even when the symptoms have gone, especially in women.

A team at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health looked at the health of more than 16,100 men and women over the age of 50 who had participated in the Health and Retirement Study between 1998 and 2010. 

Each was interviewed every two years about a variety of health measures, including depressive symptoms, history of stroke, and stroke risk factors. During the study period, nearly 2,000 strokes were reported.

Compared to people with low depressive symptoms at two consecutive interviews, those with high depressive symptoms at two consecutive interviews were more than twice as likely to have a first stroke. 

The team also found that the risk of stroke remained high even among participants whose depressive symptoms went away between interviews.

"This is the first study evaluating how changes in depressive symptoms predict changes in stroke risk," said lead author Paola Gilsanz, postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Chan School. 

Posted by Jeanette Royston

Health News is provided by Adfero in collaboration with Spire Healthcare. Please note that all copy above is ©Adfero Ltd. and does not reflect views or opinions of Spire Healthcare unless explicitly stated. Additional comments on the page from individual Spire consultants do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other consultants or Spire Healthcare.

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