Women grappling with depression may face a higher risk of stroke, a study suggests—though the two may not be directly linked. Researchers examined data on 80,000 women between 2000 and 2006; some 22% had depression diagnoses, but none had had a stroke. Over the six years, 1,033 women suffered strokes; researchers calculated a 29% increased risk of stroke for those with depression. But the researchers caution that depression itself may not have been the cause, the BBC reports.
Women with depression in the study were more likely than the rest to be single, smoke, get less exercise, have a higher body mass index, and have health issues like high blood pressure or diabetes. “Depression can prevent individuals from controlling other medical problems such as diabetes and hypertension, from taking medications regularly, or pursuing other healthy lifestyle measures such as exercise. All these factors could contribute to increased risk,” says the head of the research. Those taking SSRI medications also faced a higher risk of stroke, but she said the drugs weren’t likely the “primary cause.”