According to a new study, depression may be a warning sign of strokes in women. The link between stroke risk and depression in middle aged women is strong. The study found that women who are middle age and battling depression may be as much as two times as likely to experience a stroke as women that are of the same age, but not depressed.
Research leader, Caroline Jackson, who is an epidemiologist for the School of Population Health at the University of Queensland in Australia, said in a statement that, while the overall risk of stroke in middle aged women is low, depression appears to have a tremendously negative impact on the risk of stroke in women of this age. She also says that the findings of the study suggest that depression may be a bigger risk factor for stroke in middle aged women than the health care community previously thought. The target group of women ranged in age from 47 to 52.
Strokes occur when a damaged artery keeps the brain from getting oxygen rich blood and causes brain cells to die, which causes a build-up of toxic chemicals. An estimated 795,000 people in the US have strokes each year, and about 75 percent of those that have a stroke are 65 and older. Strokes cause about 150,000 people each year and are the third leading cause of death in the United States.
Jackson and Gita Mishra, University of Queensland profession of life course epidemiology, examined data from over 10,500 women that were between the ages of 47 and 52. None of them had experienced a stroke. All of the women were participants in the “Australian Longitudinal Study on women’s Health,” which is a project that gathered information regarding the physical and mental health every three years between 1998 and 2010.
Around 24 percent of those who were surveyed reported that they were suffering from depression and that during the study 117 of those women had a stroke.
A survey of all data confirmed that depressed women had about 2.4 times more risk for a stroke than women that did not report being depressed. Other risk factors, such as high blood pressure, age, socioeconomic status, heart disease, obesity, exercising, diabetes, smoking and drinking were eliminated, and the study still found that middle aged women who were depressed were still at a greater risk for stroke than other participants in the study.
The researchers have concluded, “Depression is a strong risk factor for stroke in mid-aged women, with the association partially explained by lifestyle and physiological factors.” It is essential to remember that the study did not determine that depression can or would cause a stroke.
Jackson and Mishra agree that further studying middle aged, and older women that are from the same group of people will be necessary to confirm if depression does, in fact, have a strong link to stroke in women of this age range as well as younger women so that prevention techniques can be developed.