A new study has shown that having more depression symptoms is linked to a higher risk of stroke in older people.
People who report an increased number of depression symptoms may be more likely to have a stroke years later.
Depression is a common mental health problem and often goes untreated.
Previously, scientists have found that depression is linked to heart disease.
For example, one study found that people who often experienced symptoms of depressions, such as sad, nervous and hopeless, had a higher risk of having a heart attack.
Another study showed that depression and anxiety can harm people with heart failure.
About one-third of patients with heart failure experienced depression symptoms. They had a higher risk of progressive heart disease and other adverse outcomes.
A third study found that found people with coronary heart disease who are diagnosed with depression are about twice as likely to die compared to those who are not diagnosed with depression.
In the present study, the researchers examined 1,104 people with an average age of 70 who had never had a stroke. These participants’ health data were followed for about 14 years.
About 8% of the people had increased symptoms of depression at the beginning of the study.
The team found that during the 14 years, 101 people had a stroke.
Among these people, 87 had an ischemic stroke, in which blood flow to part of the brain is blocked.
Moreover, patients who had higher symptoms of depression were 75% more likely to develop an ischemic stroke compared with people who had no depression symptoms.
This means each 5-point increase in the depression score was linked to a 12% higher risk of ischemic stroke.
The team suggests that their results provide information about how depression may affect the risk of stroke and other heart health problems.
The findings may help develop ways to prevent these problems.
The researchers also suggest their study does not prove that depression causes stroke, but shows the connections between the two.
Future work needs to confirm the findings and directly test whether depression can cause a stroke.
The study lead author is Marialaura Simonetto at the University of Miami, a member of the American Academy of Neurology.
The research was presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 71st Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.
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