Antidepressants taken by post-menopausal woman may increase their chances of suffering a stroke and dying prematurely, according to a study published in Archives of Internal Medicine.
It found that although the absolute risk of stroke remains very small - 0.43% - they are 45% more likely to experience strokes and have a 32% higher risk of death from all causes.
No difference in risk was found between the two major classes of antidepressant, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs such as Prozac) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). However, SSRIs are more associated with bleeding in the brain.
Lead researcher Dr Jordan Smoller, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said: “Older women taking antidepressants, like everyone else, should also work on modifying their other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as maintaining a healthy weight and controlling cholesterol levels and blood pressure.”
The report says that although the absolute risk is small, it may have a significant impact on the population level because so many women take antidepressants.