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Antidepressants Linked to Increased Stroke Risk in Postmenopausal Women
While there was no difference in the rates of heart attacks, those taking antidepressants were 45 percent more likely to suffer a stroke than the participants not taking the medications. No difference in stroke risk was found between the two major classes of antidepressants, SSRIs or tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). However, there did appear to be a higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke caused by a bleed in the brain in SSRI users. When overall death rates were examined, those on antidepressants were found to have a 32 percent higher risk of death from all causes than non-users. However, because depression itself is known to be a risk factor for cardiovascular problems, it remains unclear whether taking anti-depressants is solely responsible for the increased risk of stroke.
“Although these results raise concerns about adverse effects of antidepressants, it is important to note that depression itself has been implicated as a risk factor for coronary heart disease, stroke, early death, and other adverse outcomes,” said lead author Dr. Jordan W. Smoller, of the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Psychiatry. “In addition, inadequately treated depression is associated with substantial disability, impairments in quality of life, and health care costs.”