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Try smiling more – it could lower your risk of a stroke by up to 46%, study suggests

by Press room

Try smiling more — it could lower your risk of a stroke by up to 46%, study suggests

Suffering from depression can greatly increase a person’s risk of having a stroke, a study suggests.

A joint American and European research team found that people suffering the mental health disorder had a 46 percent increased chance of a potentially deadly neurological event.

Those who suffer more symptoms of depression are at an even higher likelihood of a stroke. Among the 26,877 study participants, those who had at least five symptoms were at a 56 percent increased risk.

Depression is known to cause harm to a person’s blood platelets, which are responsible for preventing clotting. Many strokes are caused by clotting, preventing vital blood from reaching the brain.

One notable case of depression and stroke occurring in tandem is that of Pennsylvania Sen John Fetterman, who has recently stepped away from his legislative duties because of his health struggles.

People who suffer from depression are at a severely increased risk of having a stroke, a new study finds (file photo)

‘Depression affects people around the world and can have a wide range of impacts across a person’s life,’ Dr Robert Murphy, lead author from the University of Galway in Ireland, said in a statement.

Around 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year. More than one-in-five result in death.

The most common type is an ischemic stroke, where severe clotting blocks blood from the brain. It accounts for nearly 90 percent of strokes.

Depression has long been linked to stroke, with many experts pointing to how the mental health condition affects blood flow in the body.

Previous research has linked depression to low blood platelet levels, opening up the risk of deadly clotting.

The research team, which published its findings Wednesday in the journal Neurology, looked into how steep the risk is.

‘In this study we gained deeper insights into how depressive symptoms can contribute to stroke,’ Dr Murphy said. 

‘Our results show that symptoms of depression can have an impact on mental health, but also increase the risk of stroke.’

The scientists gathered data from INTERSTROKE, a global tracker of stroke occurrences from 32 countries in Asia, Europe and the Americas.

Among the people they gathered data from, half had suffered a stroke, and the other half had not.

Participants were surveyed on pre-existing health conditions, such as heart, brain and mental health issues.

In the study population, 18 percent of people who suffered a stroke reported symptoms of depression, compared to only 14 percent of the non-stroke population.

After adjusting for other risk factors, researchers established a 46 percent increased risk of having a stroke among depressed people.

‘Our study provides a broad picture of depression and its link to risk of stroke by looking at a number of factors including participants’ symptoms, life choices and antidepressant use,’ Dr Murphy said. 

‘Our results show depressive symptoms were linked to increased stroke risk and the risk was similar across different age groups and around the world.’ 

Those who suffer from five or more symptoms of depression have an even more increased risk.

Their likelihood of suffering a stroke increases 56 percent compared to their peers.

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