Summary: People with depression are not only at higher risk of stroke, but they are also more likely to experience poorer recovery from stroke.
People who show symptoms of depression may have an increased risk of suffering a stroke, according to a study published in the March 8, 2023 online issue of Neurology.
The researchers also found that people with symptoms of depression were more likely to have poorer recovery after a stroke.
“Depression affects people all over the world and can have a wide range of impacts on a person’s life,” said study author Robert P. Murphy, MBBS, of the University of Galway. in Ireland.
“Our study provides an overview of depression and its link to stroke risk by examining a number of factors, including participants’ symptoms, lifestyle choices and use of antidepressants. Our results show that depressive symptoms were linked to an increased risk of stroke and that the risk was similar across different age groups and around the world.
The study involved 26,877 adults from the INTERSTROKE study and included people from 32 countries in Europe, Asia, North and South America, the Middle East and Africa. The participants had an average age of 62 years. Among the participants, more than 13,000 had a stroke. They were matched to more than 13,000 people who had not had a stroke but were similar in age, gender, racial or ethnic identity.
Participants completed questionnaires at the start of the study regarding cardiovascular risk factors, including high blood pressure and diabetes. The researchers collected information about symptoms of depression during the year prior to the study. They were asked if they had felt sad, blue or depressed for two or more consecutive weeks in the past 12 months.
Among study participants, 18% of those who had a stroke had symptoms of depression, compared to 14% of those who did not have a stroke.
After adjusting for age, sex, education, physical activity and other lifestyle factors, people with symptoms of depression before stroke had an increased risk of stroke 46% compared to those with no symptoms of depression.
The more symptoms participants had, the higher their risk of stroke. Participants who reported five or more symptoms of depression had a 54% higher risk of stroke than those who had no symptoms, while those who reported three to four symptoms of depression and those who reported one or two symptoms of depression had 58% and 35% higher risk, respectively.
While people with symptoms of depression were no more likely to have more severe strokes, they were more likely to have worse outcomes one month after stroke than those without symptoms of depression.
“In this study, we gained deeper insights into how depressive symptoms can contribute to stroke,” Murphy added. “Our results show that symptoms of depression can impact mental health, but also increase the risk of stroke. Physicians should look for these symptoms of depression and can use this information to help guide healthcare initiatives aimed at stroke prevention.
A limitation of the study was that participants only completed depression symptom questionnaires at the start of the study, so the effects of depression over time could not be measured.
About this depression and stroke research news
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Original research: The findings will appear in Neurology