Depression and stroke

By Donna Duggan

Depression and stroke

In a 12-year Australian study of 10,547 women aged between 47 and 52, researchers from the University of Queensland found that depressed women had a 2.4 times increased risk of stroke compared with those who weren’t depressed.

Even after the researchers eliminated several factors that increase stroke risks, such as socioeconomic status and lifestyle habits such as smoking, depressed women were still 1.9 times more likely to have a stroke.

“When treating women, doctors need to recognise the serious nature of poor mental health and what effects it can have in the long term,” said Caroline Jackson, Ph.D., study author and an epidemiologist in the School of Population Health at the University of Queensland. “Current guidelines for stroke prevention tend to overlook the potential role of depression.”

In the July 2013 issue of MiNDFOOD there is an interesting article on the importance of getting the right diagnosis and treatment if you are suffering from poor mental health. The article explains that if it is your circumstances that are making you feel sad or hopeless, for example, you will need different help to people who are experiencing depression because of a chemical imbalance.

The researchers note that it is still unclear why depression may be strongly linked to stroke in this age group. Jackson suggests that the body’s inflammatory and immunological processes and their effects on blood vessels may be part of the reasons.

Elevated levels of inflammatory markers in the blood such as C-reactive protein have long been associated with depression. One study from Emory University in Atlanta found that 62 percent of depressed people with high blood levels of C-reactive protein had a reduction in their depression while taking the anti-inflammatory drug infliximab.

For those looking for a drug free route to reduce inflammation, there are natural ways such as (surprise, surprises!) improving nutrition, getting regular exercise and enjoying regular relaxation. Once again, the advice is pretty simple: include as much fresh food as possible; don’t overeat; reduce processed foods and those made with wheat and sugar; use olive oil for cooking; eat fish; go easy on tea, coffee and alcohol and drink enough water; and enjoy some dark chocolate in moderation.

If you need to supplement your diet, choose a quality multi-vitamin that has vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and calcium. If you don’t like fish, take supplemental fish oil.

And don’t forget how to recognise a stroke:

F _ Face drooping

A _ Arm weakness

S _ Speech difficulty

T _ Time to call an ambulance


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