Depression severity may predict stroke risk

Credit: CC0 Public Domain.

Scientists from Kaiser Permanente found that the severity of depressive symptoms over time may help predict stroke risk.

The research was published in Stroke and was conducted by Yenee Soh et al.

People who consistently have higher depressive symptoms may be at higher risk for a stroke, according to new research.

But stroke risk did not increase in those with decreasing severity of symptoms over time, even if they had high depressive symptoms early on.

Past studies show a possible link between depression and the risk of stroke, which occurs when a blood vessel supplying the brain is either blocked by a clot or ruptures.

Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability and death worldwide, and it’s the No. 5 cause of death in the United States.

However, past research primarily measured depressive symptoms at a single point in time.

In the study, the team tried to paint a broader picture by measuring symptoms repeatedly over an eight-year period.

They analyzed data for 12,520 U.S. adults age 50 and older without a history of stroke in the Health and Retirement Study,

They assessed depressive symptoms that were available biennially from 1998 to 2004, for a total of four assessments.

The team found that across 10 years of follow-up, people with a pattern of consistently high depressive symptoms – defined as three or more – had an 18% higher risk of stroke compared to those who consistently had low symptoms.

Fluctuating symptoms elevated stroke risk by 21%, and increasing symptoms heightened risk by 31%.

The team also found that people whose symptoms started out high but then decreased had about the same stroke risk as those with consistently low symptoms.

This suggests that improving depressive symptoms might help with stroke prevention. It might be important for physicians to assess symptoms repeatedly across multiple visits.

The findings may help bring attention to mental health and depression in the broader public.

Further research is warranted on whether treatment for depression may improve stroke risk differently from natural remission,

If you care about depression, please read studies about depression drug that can save COVID-19 patients, and taking this depression drug too much can temporarily shut down the brain.

For more information about mental health, please see recent studies about mental health drug that may harm your brain health, and results showing depression and sleep loss should be treated individually.

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