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Depression could predict strokes says new study

By Colin Ricketts - 21 Sep 2011 20:22:0 GMT
Depression could predict strokes says new study

Sufferers from depression are more likely to develop and die from strokes says a new study which analysed the experience of more than 300,000 patients.

An Pan from the Harvard School of Public Health and her team looked at nearly 30 previous studies to see if they could find a link between depression and some types of stoke.

With, 5.8 percent of men and 9.5 percent of women suffering from depression in each 12-month period, this research could be an important tool for policies to decrease the incidence of strokes.

After looking at 317,540 study participants with 8,478 reported stroke cases who had been followed up for a period of from 2 to 29 years, Pan's team found that suffering from depression carried a 45 percent increased risk of suffering from stroke. That risk rose to 55 percent for suffering a fatal stroke; and depression sufferers were a quarter more likely to suffer ischemic stroke (caused by a loss of blood supply to the brain).

However, the reasons why depression should cause such an increase in stroke risk are not clear and the researchers are calling for more research to examine this. Among the possible causes the researchers have considered are a link through the nervous and endocrine systems or the increased likelihood that depression sufferers will indulge in behaviours that are harmful to their health like smoking, not exercising and eating poorly.

The researchers concluded, in the Journal of the American Medical Association: "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. More studies are needed to explore the underlying mechanisms and elucidate the causal pathways that link depression and stroke."

Top Image Credit: © Lanie