Objective: The 'vascular depression' hypothesis suggests that late-life depression results from vascular brain damage. We studied the longitudinal association between cerebrovascular risk factors and incident depression in a large population-based study.
Method: Two thousand nine hundred and thirty-one persons with the age of > or =61 years were followed up. Data on a comprehensive set of cerebrovascular risk factors were collected at baseline. Participants received a psychiatric assessment 5 years later to establish DSM-IV diagnoses.
Results: Only current smoking and antihypertensive drug use were independently associated with incident depressive symptoms. Diabetes mellitus and the Framingham stroke risk score were related to incident depressive disorder. No relation with depression was observed for cholesterol, diastolic and systolic blood pressure, history of cardiovascular disease, atrial fibrillation, left ventricular hypertrophy or the use of statins and anticoagulants.
Conclusion: These results moderately support the 'vascular depression' hypothesis.