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Depression, stroke combo triples mortality rate

Sunday January 13, 2013
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In a study, people who were depressed after a stroke had triple the risk of dying early and four times the risk of dying from stroke compared with people who had not experienced a stroke or depression.

"Up to one in three people who have a stroke develop depression," study author Amytis Towfighi, MD, with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California and Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Los Angeles, said in a news release. "This is something family members can help watch for that could potentially save their loved one."

Towfighi noted similar associations have been found regarding depression and myocardial infarction, but less is known about the association between stroke, depression and death.

The research included 10,550 people ages 25 to 74 who were followed for 21 years. Of those, 8,138 did not have a stroke or depression, 2,291 did not have a stroke but had depression, 73 had a stroke but did not develop depression and 48 had both stroke and depression.

After taking into account factors such as age, gender, race, education, income level and marital status, the risk of dying from any cause was three times higher in individuals who had stroke and depression compared with those who had not had a stroke and were not depressed. The risk of dying from stroke was four times higher among those who had a stroke and were depressed.

"Our research highlights the importance of screening for and treating depression in people who have experienced a stroke," said Towfighi, also a member of the American Academy of Neurology. "Given how common depression is after stroke, and the potential consequences of having depression, looking for signs and symptoms and addressing them may be key."

The study is scheduled for presentation at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting March 16-23 in San Diego. The study abstract is available at www.aan.com/globals/axon/assets/10433.pdf.


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