December 14, 2009
Postmenopausal women who take antidepressants face a small but statistically significant increased risk for stroke and death compared with those who do not take the drugs. The new findings are from the federally-funded, multi-institution, Women’s Health Initiative Study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, and the results are published in the December 14 online edition of Archives of Internal Medicine.
Senior author Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Ph.D., is a principal investigator in the Women’s Health Initiative and is division head of epidemiology and professor of epidemiology & population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. In addition to Einstein, other institutions involved in the study were Massachusetts General Hospital, where the lead author of the paper, Jordan W. Smoller, M.D., Sc.D., is based. He is also associate professor of psychiatry in the Harvard Medical School. Also contributing to the study are researchers from the University of California San Diego, the University of Washington, the University of Hawaii, the University of Iowa, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and Emory University School of Medicine.
The study examined data from 136,293 study participants, aged 50 to 79, who were not taking antidepressants when they enrolled in the study, and who were followed for an average of six years. Data from 5,496 women who were taking antidepressants at their first follow-up visit were compared with data from 130,797 not taking antidepressants at follow-up. The researchers compared the two groups with respect to the incidence of fatal or nonfatal stroke, fatal or nonfatal heart attack and death due to all causes.
The researchers found no difference in coronary heart disease (defined as fatal and non-fatal heart attacks). However, they did observe a significant difference in stroke rates: antidepressant users were 45 percent more likely to experience strokes than women who weren’t taking antidepressants.
The study also found that when overall death rates (all-cause mortality) were compared between the two groups, those on antidepressants had a 32 percent higher risk of death from all causes compared with non-users.
Read entire article: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-12/aeco-ami121009.php