Background and purpose: This study examined depressive disorder as a risk factor for incident stroke in a prospective, population-based design.
Methods: The Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study is a prospective 13-year follow-up of a probability sample of household residents from Baltimore, Md. Depressive disorder was measured with the diagnostic interview schedule, and stroke was assessed by questions from the health interview survey or by documentation on a death certificate.
Results: During the 13-year follow-up of 1703 individuals, 66 strokes were reported and 29 strokes were identified by death certificate search. Individuals with a history of depressive disorder were 2.6 times more likely to report stroke than those without this disorder after controlling for heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and current and previous use of tobacco. Medications used in the treatment of depressive disorder at baseline did not alter this finding. A history of dysthymia demonstrated a similar relationship to stroke, although the estimate was not statistically significant.
Conclusions: Depressive disorder is a risk factor for stroke that appears to be independent of traditional cardiovascular risk factors. Further research on mechanisms for the association and the impact of treatment for depressive disorder on subsequent stroke is needed.