Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

"Silent Stroke" Linked To Depression

Date:
October 4, 1999
Source:
American Heart Association
Summary:
Researchers have found a connection between depression and 'silent stroke,' a brain abnormality that can lead to a stroke. In a study published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers say individuals who develop depression after age 50 should be evaluated for stroke.

DALLAS, Oct. 1 -- Researchers have found a connection between depression and 'silent stroke,' a brain abnormality that can lead to a stroke. In a study published today in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers say individuals who develop depression after age 50 should be evaluated for stroke.

A silent stroke occurs when small blood vessels in the brain become blocked or rupture. They are called silent strokes because they are not accompanied by the classic warning signs of stroke such as severe headaches, dizziness or loss of motor skills. Individuals often don't realize they've even had a stroke. Over time, these smaller blood vessels are unable to deliver blood or oxygen to the brain, and cells die. Eventually, an individual may develop problems with memory or concentration and may even have difficulty walking.

"Depression may indicate the presence of small blockages, called lesions, of the blood vessels in the brain that could provide a warning of a potential stroke before it happens," says the study's lead author, David C. Steffens, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.

Researchers say the findings suggest that individuals, especially those at risk for stroke, need to be carefully monitored for depression. Depression may indicate that a silent stroke has already occurred. Further work is needed to see if individuals with silent strokes are at risk to develop larger strokes and vascular dementia -- a condition of memory loss and other cognitive problems that result from stroke.

Although earlier studies suggested a link between depression and brain injury, most of those were small. The Duke study examined more than 3,600 elderly individuals enrolled in the Cardiovascular Health Study, which recruited subjects from Medicare lists in four communities -- Forsyth County, N.C.; Sacramento County, Calif.; Washington County, Md.; and Pittsburgh, Pa. The patients agreed to have magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) performed as part of the study. An MRI is a non-invasive imaging technique that allows physicians to view the brain. Each subject also answered a questionnaire to measure depressive symptoms experienced in the previous week.

Silent strokes were diagnosed by examining lesions in the basal ganglia, also called the 'subcortical gray matter.' Located deep within the brain, the basal ganglia acts as a relay station between different parts of the brain by producing chemicals such as serotonin and norepinephrine. These regulate the area of the brain known as the cortex, where information is processed.

"These small lesions that we found deep in the brain may represent a kind of breakdown in the connection between the basal ganglia and the cortex," Steffens says.

The number of small lesions, less than 3 millimeters in diameter, in the basal ganglia was significantly associated with depressive symptoms. The lesions appear to be caused by small strokes.

The researchers divided the subjects into four groups based on their scores on the depression questionnaire. By comparing the least and the most depressed, they determined that having basal ganglia lesions increased the risk of reporting severe depression by 40 percent, he says.

"Depression is often overlooked in the elderly because its symptoms may differ from those seen in younger people," Steffens explains. "Their depression may be more characteristically marked by apathy, a loss of interest in their usual activities, instead of sadness. So, as a result, neither the patients, their families nor their physician, may recognize these characteristics as signs of clinical depression. Patients with risk factors for heart attack and stroke need to be closely monitored for the development of depression," says Steffens.

Co-authors include: Michael J. Helms, B.S.; K. Ranga Rama Krishnan, M.D.; and Gregory L. Burke, M.D.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Heart Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Heart Association. ""Silent Stroke" Linked To Depression." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 October 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/10/991004071002.htm>.
American Heart Association. (1999, October 4). "Silent Stroke" Linked To Depression. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/10/991004071002.htm
American Heart Association. ""Silent Stroke" Linked To Depression." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/10/991004071002.htm (accessed July 26, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins