Middle-aged women with depression twice as likely to suffer a stroke, says new study

Women in their 40s and 50s with depression are more than twice as likely to suffer a stroke, warns a new study.
Evidence from a 12-year study of women aged from 47 to 52, concludes that depression makes women in this age group more vulnerable at a much younger age that would be expected.

The bottom line was that women in that age group with depression were twice as likely to suffer a stroke.

Study author Caroline Jackson, of the University of Queensland, said current guidelines for stroke prevention overlook the potential role of depression.

She said: “Doctors need to recognize the serious nature of poor mental health and what effects it can have in the long term.”

Depression affects one in ten adults in the UK ahere has been a big rise in the prescription of anti-depressants in the last 20 years, particularly for women.

In the study more than 10,500 women answered questions about their mental and physical health and other personal details every three years from 1998-2010.

An American study of an older group of women found a 30 per cent higher risk of stroke among those who were depressed. One in four reported being depressed, based on their replies to a standardised depression scale and recent use of anti-depressants. There were 177 first-time strokes during the study published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers took into account factors which can affect stroke risk, such as age, socioeconomic status and lifestyle habits like smoking, drinking and physical activity.
Also considered were physiological conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, being overweight and diabetes.
The closest comparison was a US study of women whose average age was 14 years older. This found a 30 per cent higher risk of stroke among those who were depressed.

Contributing factors included high blood pressure, heart disease and being overweight also heighten the risk

Dr Jackson said she would expect similar results to her study in America and Europe.

The reasons for any link are unclear but the effects on blood vessels of the body’s inflammatory and immunological processes may be involved, she said.
Other possible factors are that patients with depression tend to have less healthy diets and take less exercise. They are also less likely to take medicine if they have high blood pressure or cholesterol, both risk factors for stroke.
Some anti-depressants also slightly raise the threat.

Dr Jackson reassured women that the absolute risk of stroke was still fairly low in this age group.In the study, about 1.5 per cent of the total had a stroke, rising to just over 2 per cent among those with depression.