In Older People, Impaired Breathing May Raise Stroke Risk; Study Also Finds That Being Married Could Lower Risk

July 02, 1998

DALLAS, July 3 -- High blood pressure, prior stroke and having an irregular heartbeat are all risk factors for stroke. An Australian study examining stroke risk, however, suggests that impaired breathing may increase stroke risk, while being married may lower it.

In this month's Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, Australian researchers examined hospital and death records of 2,805 men and women over the age of 60 during an eight-year period.

While the scientists substantiated many previously-held beliefs about stroke risk, they also discovered that people who were married had a 30 percent lower risk of stroke. Married women, in particular, had a 46 percent lower risk of stroke. It may not be time to run out and buy the engagement ring, however, since the scientists say more research will be needed to explain the findings about marriage.

"The reasons for this are unclear," says the study's lead author Leon A. Simons, M.D., of St. Vincent's Hospital, Darlinghurst, New South Wales, Australia. "It may relate to differential benefits from social support in marriage."

The scientists also found that those whose breathing -- peak expiratory flow -- was most impaired by chronic bronchitis had a 77 percent higher risk for having a stroke when compared to those whose breathing was the least impaired.

"The relationship between impaired peak expiratory flow and ischemic stroke has not, to our knowledge, been previously reported," says Simons. "A suggested link between inflammation and atherosclerosis is very topical, especially with recent research on the link between respiratory infection and heart disease. Our data allows the possibility of speculation and extrapolation, but more specific research needs to be done on this link."

The scientists were looking for reasons why some people were more susceptible than others of having an ischemic stroke, which occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off. Nearly 80 percent of strokes are ischemic.

People in the study who had a prior stroke had a 227 percent higher risk of having another stroke. In addition, those who had the highest blood pressure readings had a 67 percent higher risk of a stroke, and people who had an irregular heartbeat -- a condition known as atrial fibrillation -- had a 58 percent higher risk of a stroke.

While the researchers did not make a direct link between depression and stroke risk, they say their study has raised the possibility that clinical depression and stroke may share a common development.

"There is evidence from studies that changes in the brain are associated with onset of depression in late life," says Simons. "These changes appear to be associated with vascular risk factors such as hypertension or diabetes, but this will require confirmation in future studies."

The study found that women had a 48 percent lower risk of having a stroke and those who had high blood levels of good, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol also had a reduced risk. People who were physically disabled had a 59 percent higher risk of stroke.

"These findings suggest that death and illness associated with ischemic stroke can be predicted by various clinical indicators, some of which may be amenable to intervention," says Simons.

Co-authors include John McCallum, D.Phil.; Yechiel Friedlander, Ph.D.; and Judith Simons, M.A.C.S.
For copies of the study, please telephone: 214-706-1173

NR 98-4918 (Stroke/Simons)
Media advisory: Dr. Simons can be reached by phone 61 2 9361 2301 at fax at 61 2 9361 2234 or by or by e-mail at (Please do not publish numbers.)

American Heart Association

Related Depression Articles from Brightsurf:

Children with social anxiety, maternal history of depression more likely to develop depression
Although researchers have known for decades that depression runs in families, new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York, suggests that children suffering from social anxiety may be at particular risk for depression in the future.

Depression and use of marijuana among US adults
This study examined the association of depression with cannabis use among US adults and the trends for this association from 2005 to 2016.

Maternal depression increases odds of depression in offspring, study shows
Depression in mothers during and after pregnancy increased the odds of depression in offspring during adolescence and adulthood by 70%.

Targeting depression: Researchers ID symptom-specific targets for treatment of depression
For the first time, physician-scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have identified two clusters of depressive symptoms that responded to two distinct neuroanatomical treatment targets in patients who underwent transcranial magnetic brain stimulation (TMS) for treatment of depression.

A biological mechanism for depression
Researchers report that in depressed individuals there are increased amounts of an unmodified structural protein, called tubulin, in lipid rafts compared with non-depressed individuals.

Depression in adults who are overweight or obese
In an analysis of primary care records of 519,513 UK adults who were overweight or obese between 2000-2016 and followed up until 2019, the incidence of new cases of depression was 92 per 10,000 people per year.

Why stress doesn't always cause depression
Rats susceptible to anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, possess more serotonin neurons after being exposed to chronic stress, but the effect can be reversed through amygdala activation, according to new research in JNeurosci.

Which comes first: Smartphone dependency or depression?
New research suggests a person's reliance on his or her smartphone predicts greater loneliness and depressive symptoms, as opposed to the other way around.

Depression breakthrough
Major depressive disorder -- referred to colloquially as the 'black dog' -- has been identified as a genetic cause for 20 distinct diseases, providing vital information to help detect and manage high rates of physical illnesses in people diagnosed with depression.

CPAP provides relief from depression
Researchers have found that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can improve depression symptoms in patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

Read More: Depression News and Depression Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to