Study shows link between depression, strokes

Aug. 12, 2011 at 2:50 PM
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Aug. 12 (UPI) -- Depressed women have a greater risk of stroke than non-depressed women and those who take antidepressants face an even higher risk, U.S. researchers say.

A Harvard University study found women with a history of depression have a 29 percent greater risk of having a stroke and those taking antidepressants, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as Prozac or Zoloft, face a 39 percent higher risk, USA Today reported Friday.

The study did not link increased risk directly to the medication but rather to the level of depression the use of such medications can indicate.

"Although we found women who took antidepressants were at higher risk, I don't have anything to indicate it's because of the medications," said senior study author Kathryn Rexrode, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Rather, use of antidepressants most likely indicates more severe depression, the researchers said, and depression has been linked to stroke risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, smoking and physical inactivity.

The study results show "modest elevations in risk," Rexrode says, and should not lead women to consider stopping their medications.

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