Depression Raises the Risk of Stroke

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Miami-Dade Police Department

The symptoms of depression may be linked to an increased risk of stroke, say researchers.

Previous work has shown that depression increases the risk of heart disease, but for the first time, researchers have discovered a link between depression and stroke in patients under the age of 65.

For the study, researchers from Boston University looked at the medical records of over 4,100 people, eleven percent of whom showed symptoms of a depressive syndrome.

Over the course of eight years, those involved suffered from 144 strokes and 84 mini-strokes. When other factors that increase the risk for stroke, such as smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes were taken into account, those who were under 65 with many depressive symptoms were over four times more likely to suffer from a stroke than those with fewer signs of depression.

Researchers are not sure why depression seems to increase one's risk of stroke. They note that depression increases the risk of various conditions, such as high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases that may increase the risk of stroke. Additionally, they add, depression may be linked to poor nutrition, exercise and other health habits that also increase one's risk for stroke.

While more work needs to be done to further understand how depression in connected to stroke, there are things one can do to decrease this risk. Therefore, "increased awareness of stroke risk in those exhibiting depressive symptoms may identify those who could benefit from primary stroke intervention," the authors write in the journal Stroke.

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