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Depression Tied to Stroke Risk in Middle-Aged Women

Although risk is still low, Australian study found it nearly doubled for depressed women in their 40s and 50s

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Jackson noted that in absolute terms the risk for women in this age group having a stroke is still small.

In the study, about 1.5 percent of all women had a stroke, and it increased to slightly more than 2 percent among women with depression, she noted.

While the study tied depression to increased stroke risk, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

According to Jackson, this is the first large study that looked at the association between depression and stroke in younger middle-aged women.

In the United States, another long-running study on women's health -- the Nurses' Health Study -- found a 30 percent higher risk of stroke among depressed women. The average age of women in that study, however, was 14 years older, Jackson said.

The compelling evidence of an association between depression and stroke, "reinforce the need for adequate targeted prevention, detection and control of poor mental health among mid-aged women," Jackson said.

And since the reasons for association aren't known, "we need to carry out further research to identify the mechanism by which depression affects stroke risk, since this may have implications for development of future treatment of depression and stroke prevention strategies," she said.

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