Stroke survivors with depression face triple the risk of dying

January 15, 2013

depressed woman

People who are depressed after a stroke may have a tripled risk of dying early and four times the risk of death from stroke than people who have not experienced a stroke or depression.


“Up to one in three people who have a stroke develop depression,” says study author Amytis Towfighi, assistant professor of neurology at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC). “This is something family members can help watch for that could potentially save their loved one.”

Similar associations have been found regarding depression and heart attack, but less is known about the association between stroke, depression, and death, says Towfighi.

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

After considering 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 to 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 compared to people who had not had a stroke and were not depressed.

“Our research highlights the importance of screening for and treating depression in people who have experienced a stroke,” says Towfighi. “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 findings will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 65th Annual Meeting in San Diego, March 16 to 23.

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