Persistent depression is associated with twice the risk of stroke in adults over 50.
Researchers interviewed 16,178 people every two years from 1998 over a 12 year period and assessed depressive symptoms and stroke. They showed that those people who scored significantly for depression on at least two consecutive interviews had double the risk of having a first stroke in the two years after the assessment compared to those with low depressive symptoms. The risk was slightly higher for women and those who had had previous depressive symptoms.
Paola Gilsanz of Harvard University said, ” Our findings suggest that depression may increase stroke risk over the long term. This risk remains elevated even if depressive symptoms have resolved, suggesting a cumulative mechanism linking depression and stroke. Physiological changes may lead to vascular damage over the long term. Depression is also linked to hypertension, ill effects on the autonomic nervous system and inflammatory responses that all cause vascular disease. In addition depressed people are more likely to smoke and by physically inactive.”
From Research News BMJ 23 May 2015