Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Increased risk of death, stroke in postmenopausal women taking antidepressants, study finds

Date:
January 4, 2010
Source:
Massachusetts General Hospital
Summary:
Women participating in the Women's Health Initiative study who reported taking an antidepressant drug had a small but statistically significant increase in the risk of stroke and of death compared with participants not taking antidepressants. The authors of the study note that their findings are not conclusive but may signify a need for additional attention to patients' cardiovascular risk factors.

Women participating in the Women's Health Initiative study who reported taking an antidepressant drug had a small but statistically significant increase in the risk of stroke and of death compared with participants not taking antidepressants. The authors of a report in the December 14 Archives of Internal Medicine note that their findings are not conclusive but may signify a need for additional attention to patients' cardiovascular risk factors.

"Depression is a serious illness with its own health risks, and we know that antidepressants can be life-saving for some patients. No one should stop taking their prescribed medication based on this one study, but women who have concerns should discuss them with their physicians," says Jordan W. Smoller, MD, ScD, of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Department of Psychiatry, the study's lead author. "Older women taking antidepressants can talk with their physicians about their cardiovascular risk, work on modifying other risk factors, and discuss the risks and benefits of various treatment options. We need to study this association more to determine exactly what it signifies."

Depression is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease and premature death, and one of the reasons that tricyclic antidepressants are used less frequently is their potential for negative effects on heart function. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants have fewer side effects in general and are known to have aspirin-like effects on bleeding, which could protect against clot-related cardiovascular disorders. Since the use of antidepressants has increased greatly in recent years and since older women are also at risk for cardiovascular disease, a team of researchers from several academic medical centers examined the link between antidepressant use and cardiovascular disease in such patients.

The Women's Health Initiative (WHI) of the National Institutes of Health followed more than 160,000 postmenopausal U.S. women for up to 15 years, examining risk factors for and potential preventive measures against cardiovascular disease, cancer and osteoporosis. For the current study, the research team began with data from more than 136,000 WHI participants who were not taking antidepressant drugs when they entered the study. At their first follow-up visit, either one or three years after study entry, about 5,500 of those women reported currently taking an antidepressant. The research team compared that group's subsequent history of cardiovascular disease with that of participants who had not started taking antidepressants.

While the study did not find any relationship between antidepressant use and heart disease, during a follow-up period averaging nearly six years, participants taking antidepressants did have an increased risk of death from any cause and of hemorrhagic stroke among those taking SSRIs. The overall risks were small -- remaining less than 2 percent annually for all groups -- but the increase was statistically significant. "There are a lot of things this study couldn't tell us, such as whether this risk truly is attributable to the drugs and not to depression itself and whether participants were being treated for depression or for anxiety, which also has cardiovascular risks," Smoller says. "We also don't know whether there is any similar association in younger women or in men, since they were not part of this study."

"Previous studies have shown that depression itself has risks as high as those seen with medication in this study," he adds. "There are other effective forms of therapy for patients at high cardiovascular risk who also have depression, so concerned women can explore these options with their physicians. But for most patients with significant depression, the benefits of antidepressants will outweigh the risks." Smoller is an associate professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Senior author Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, PhD, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine is also a principal investigator in the Women's Health Initiative. Additional co-authors are Matthew Allison, MD, MPH, University of California, San Diego; Barbara Cochrane, PhD, RN, University of Washington; David Curb, MD, MPH, University of Hawaii; Roy Perlis, MD, MSc, MGH; Jennifer Robinson, MD, MPH, University of Iowa; Milagros Rosal, PhD, University of Massachusetts Medical Center; and Nanette Wenger, MD, Emory University. Both the Women's Health Initiative and the current study were supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts General Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jordan W. Smoller; Matthew Allison; Barbara B. Cochrane; J. David Curb; Roy H. Perlis; Jennifer G. Robinson; Milagros C. Rosal; Nanette K. Wenger; Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller. Antidepressant Use and Risk of Incident Cardiovascular Morbidity and Mortality Among Postmenopausal Women in the Women's Health Initiative Study. Arch Intern Med, 2009; 169 (22): 2128-2139 [link]

Cite This Page:

Massachusetts General Hospital. "Increased risk of death, stroke in postmenopausal women taking antidepressants, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091214162311.htm>.
Massachusetts General Hospital. (2010, January 4). Increased risk of death, stroke in postmenopausal women taking antidepressants, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091214162311.htm
Massachusetts General Hospital. "Increased risk of death, stroke in postmenopausal women taking antidepressants, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091214162311.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Microneedle Patch Promises Painless Pricks

Microneedle Patch Promises Painless Pricks

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 18, 2014) Researchers at The National University of Singapore have invented a new microneedle patch that could offer a faster and less painful delivery of drugs such as insulin and painkillers. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Nurse Nina Pham Arrives in Maryland

Raw: Nurse Nina Pham Arrives in Maryland

AP (Oct. 17, 2014) The first nurse to be diagnosed with Ebola at a Dallas hospital walked down the stairs of an executive jet into an ambulance at an airport in Frederick, Maryland, on Thursday. Pham will be treated at the National Institutes of Health. (Oct. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Cruise Ship Returns to US Over Ebola Fears

Raw: Cruise Ship Returns to US Over Ebola Fears

AP (Oct. 17, 2014) A Caribbean cruise ship carrying a Dallas health care worker who is being monitored for signs of the Ebola virus is heading back to Texas, US, after being refused permission to dock in Cozumel, Mexico. (Oct. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spanish Govt: Four Suspected Ebola Cases in Spain Test Negative

Spanish Govt: Four Suspected Ebola Cases in Spain Test Negative

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) All four suspected Ebola cases admitted to hospitals in Spain on Thursday have tested negative for the deadly virus in a first round of tests, the government said Friday. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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