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Changes in Depressive Symptoms and Incidence of First Stroke Among Middle-Aged and Older US Adults

BACKGROUND:Although research has demonstrated that depressive symptoms predict stroke incidence, depressive symptoms are dynamic. It is unclear whether stroke risk persists if depressive symptoms remit.METHODS AND RESULTS:Health and Retirement Study participants (n=16 178, stroke free and noninstitutionalized at baseline) were interviewed biennially from 1998 to 2010. Stroke and depressive symptoms were assessed through self-report of doctors’ diagnoses and a modified Center for Epidemiologic Studies – Depression scale (high was ≥3 symptoms), respectively. We examined whether depressive symptom patterns, characterized across 2 successive interviews (stable low/no, onset, remitted, or stable high depressive symptoms) predicted incident stroke (1192 events) during the subsequent 2 years. We used marginal structural Cox proportional hazards models adjusted for demographics, health behaviors, chronic conditions, and attrition. We also estimated effects stratified by age (≥65 years), race or ethnicity (non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, Hispanic), and sex. Stroke hazard was elevated among participants with stable high (adjusted hazard ratio 2.14, 95% CI 1.69 to 2.71) or remitted (adjusted hazard ratio 1.66, 95% CI 1.22 to 2.26) depressive symptoms compared with participants with stable low/no depressive symptoms. Stable high depressive symptom predicted stroke among all subgroups. Remitted depressive symptoms predicted increased stroke hazard among women (adjusted hazard ratio 1.86, 95% CI 1.30 to 2.66) and non-Hispanic white participants (adjusted hazard ratio 1.66, 95% CI 1.18 to 2.33) and was marginally associated among Hispanics (adjusted hazard ratio 2.36, 95% CI 0.98 to 5.67).CONCLUSIONS:In this cohort, persistently high depressive symptoms were associated with increased stroke risk. Risk remained elevated even if depressive symptoms remitted over a 2-year period, suggesting cumulative etiologic mechanisms linking depression and stroke.

Authors: Gilsanz P; Walter S; Tchetgen Tchetgen EJ; Patton KK; Moon JR; Capistrant BD; Marden JR; Kubzansky LD; Kawachi I; Glymour MM

​J Am Heart Assoc. 2015 May 13;4(5). pii: e001923. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.115.001923.

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