Depressed women may be 29 percent more likely to have a stroke, a recent study show.
The study, published in the journal Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, also found that women who used anti-depressant medication such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors had a 39 percent increased risk of getting a stroke. Some examples of these drugs are Prozac, Zoloft, and Celexa, the research stated.
Dr. Kathryn Rexrode, the study's senior author and associate physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass., said anti-depressant medication use may be an indicator of depression severity.
"I don't think the medications themselves are the primary cause of the risk," Rexrode said in a statement. "This study does not suggest that people should stop their medications to reduce the risk of stroke."
Some 80,574 women between the ages of 54 and 79 years were followed by the researchers. The women were in the Nurses' Health Study from 2000 to 2006, and were without a prior history of stroke. However, researcherlooked at depressive symptoms multiple times and anti-depressant use was reported every two years beginning in 1996. Physicians diagnosed depression beginning in 2000.
About 22 percent of the women had been diagnosed with depression. Furthermore, 1,033 stroke cases were found during the six-year study.
They study aslo show that compared to women without a history of depression, depressed women were more likely to be single, smokers and less physically active, slightly younger with a higher body mass index and more coexisting conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
"Depression can prevent individuals from controlling other medical problems such as diabetes and hypertension, from taking medications regularly or pursuing other healthy lifestyle measures such as exercise," Rexrode said. "All these factors could contribute to increased risk."
The participants in the study were predominantly white registered nurses and it excluded women without detailed information on depression measures and the participants with onset of stroke at a young age, which added to the study's limitations.
"We cannot infer cause or fully exclude the possibility that the results could be explained by other unmeasured unknown factors," Pan said. "Although the underlying mechanisms remain unclear, recognizing that depressed women may be at a higher risk of stroke merits additional research into preventive strategies in this group."