Stroke Risk in Older Adults Skyrockets with Depression and Remains Long After

By Peter R - 14 May '15 18:20PM

A new collaborative study has linked chronic depression with high risk of stroke in older adults, which does not resolve even after depression symptoms are gone.

The research used information provided by over 16,000 men and women aged 50 and older who participated in the Health and Retirement Study between 1998 and 2010. Every two years subjects were asked about their history of stroke and depression symptoms. During the study period there were 1,192 stroke incidents.

"In this cohort, persistently high depressive symptoms were associated with increased stroke risk. Risk remained elevated even if depressive symptoms remitted over a two-year period, suggesting cumulative etiologic mechanisms linking depression and stroke," researchers wrote in the Journal of American Heart Association.

The study showed a 66 percent higher risk even if depression symptoms resolved, particularly in women. Compared to participants older than 65 years, younger participants with depression had a higher stroke risk, the study found.

"This is the first study evaluating how changes in depressive symptoms predict changes in stroke risk. If replicated, these findings suggest that clinicians should seek to identify and treat depressive symptoms as close to onset as possible, before harmful effects on stroke risk start to accumulate," said first author Paola Gilsanz, ‎Yerby postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Chan School.

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