While depression is known to increase the risk for stroke, a new study suggests the link is even greater in younger women. Researchers in Australia studied over 10,000 women with an average age of 52, with no history of stroke. They found that about 24% were depressed at each survey (every 3 years for 12 years). The study found 177 strokes over the study period. After accounting for risk factors including age, education, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease, being depressed nearly doubled the risk for stroke.
In another study published in 2011 on the same subject, researchers saw an increased risk of only 30% of stroke, yet the average age in the study was 14 years older, and one analysis found no increased risk in people over 65.
Caroline A. Jackson, an epidemiologist at the University of Queensland, and lead author of the Australian study said, “the study adds to the evidence around depression and increased risk of stroke. And it’s possibly even stronger in younger women. But it’s important to remember that this is a relatively small study, and it needs to be explored in a much larger population. Dr. Robbins adds, that we don’t know why depression raises the incidence of stroke, or why it may raise the incidence in younger women….. more research is needed. NYTimes.com 5/24/13