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Depressed Stroke Survivors Raise Risk of Death by Three Times

Update Date: Jan 13, 2013 04:10 AM EST

A new study suggests that people who get depressed after a stroke increase their likelihood of an early death. According to the study, such people triple their risk of dying early and increase their risk of dying by stroke four times, compared to people who have not experienced stroke or depression.

"Up to one in three people who have a stroke develop depression," said study author Amytis Towfighi, M.D., 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."

Towfighi notes that that although similar associations have been found before as well about depression and heart attack, little is known about the association between stroke, depression and death.

For the study, the researcher followed up with 10,550 people aged between 25 and 74, for a period of 21 years.

Of the subjects studied by the researcher, 73 people had a stroke but did not develop depression, 48 had stroke and depression, and 8,138 did not have stroke or depression, while 2,291 did not have stroke but had depression, the report in Medical Xpress said.

After the researchers considered factors such as age, gender, race, education, income level and marital status, they found that in people who have had stroke or depression, the risk of dying from any cause was three times higher when compared to those who had not had a stroke and were not depressed.

Also, the risk of death from stroke was also found to be four times higher among individuals who had a stroke and were 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."

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