A new study dating back over twenty years has found that stroke is linked to people who are depressed.

Compared to people who showed no signs of being depressed, Harvard research fellow, An Pan, found that in combination with other risk factors, depression could foreseeably increase the rate of strokes in patients by 45 percent. Stroke related deaths could rise by 55 percent.

The study was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Pan, hastened however, that depression in isolation was probably not the main cause - but a related risk from obesity, diabetes, smoking.

"We knew that depression raises a person's risk of developing diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease, We also knew that depression can occur after patients suffer a stroke. We just didn't have strong enough evidence to know if the reverse was true, or what really comes first." Pan added.

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In a further comment Pan added that antidepressant medications could be the cause for the increased risk, although hormonal changes were also.

Ischemic stroke incidences that arise from lack of blood flow or blockages, were more in depressed patients whilst Hemorrhagic stroke, where blood vessels leak or burst open, were found not affected.

The data combining 28 studies dating back from two to 29 years ago and suggests now that today's stroke rate - 795,000 yearly - could be as much as 4 percent attributed / linked to depression.

Doctors should be advised to watch their patients’ weight and blood pressure more regularly while under any anti-depressants, the study concluded.