According to a study to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology in March 2013, individuals who are depressed after a stroke face a tripled risk of death and quadrupled risk of death from stroke as compared to those who are neither depressed nor have stroke.
“Up to one in three people who have a stroke develop depression,” said 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, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “This is something family members can help watch for that could potentially save their loved one.”
Earlier studies have linked depression to heart attack, but fewer studies exist about the association between stroke, depression and death.
The 21 year research study involved 10,550 people aged 25 – 74. 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.
Adjusting for factors such as age, gender, race, education, income level and marital status, the risk of dying from any cause was calculated to be three times higher in individuals who had stroke and depression compared to those who had neither stroke nor depression. 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,” said 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.”