Antidepressants link to strokes for women

Middle-aged women who take antidepressants could be nearly 40 per cent more likely to have a stroke, scientists claim.

But it is unclear whether it is the pills or other factors linked to depression that raises the risk.

A study of more than 80,000 women aged 54 to 79 over a six-year period found those who had been depressed were 29 per cent more likely to have a stroke.

However, patients who took Prozac, Seroxat or similar medication were 39 per cent more at risk. Until recently there was little research on the long-term dangers of common antidepressants taken by millions of Britons a year.

But only last week a study by British scientists indicated they increased the risk of death, heart attacks and falls in the elderly.

Last year, 23million prescriptions were written out for Prozac, Seroxat and similar types of drugs known as SSRIs, a rise of more than 40 per cent in four years.

Last night, health experts said women should not stop taking their medication as they could not be sure it was causing strokes.


Patients with depression are often overweight, tend to smoke or fail to exercise, factors that also increase the risk of stroke, the U.S. researchers, from Harvard Medical School, in Boston, told the American Heart Association.

Kathryn Rexrode, senior author of the research said: ‘I don’t think the medications themselves are the primary cause of the risk. This study does not suggest that people should stop their medications to reduce the risk of stroke.

‘Depression can prevent individuals from controlling other medical problems such as diabetes and hypertension, from taking medications regularly or pursuing other healthy lifestyle measures such as exercise.

‘All these factors could contribute to increased risk.’

Dr Peter Coleman, of the Stroke Association, said patients on antidepressants should continue taking them.

‘Depression is a very serious condition which needs to be treated carefully by healthcare professionals. This research appears to indicate that women suffering from depression may be less motivated to maintain good health or control other medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, which have an associated increased risk of stroke.

‘However, it is very hard to determine whether there is a direct link between depression and stroke risk and a lot more research is needed in this area before depression alone can be viewed as a stroke risk factor.

‘It’s important that anyone taking antidepressants should continue doing so, and anyone concerned about their overall stroke risk should speak to their GP.’

Germany claims E.coli has peaked

There have been more deaths from E.coli poisoning despite reassurances from health officials that the worst of the epidemic is over.

Another person died in Germany after contracting the infection, taking the number of deaths to 24 – plus one in Sweden.

Around 300 more cases have been reported, bringing the number to 2,648. Almost 700 of these people were suffering from a serious complication that can cause kidney failure.

However there is often a lag in the reporting time of new cases and German health minister Daniel Bahr claimed that cases of infections ‘are clearly going down’.

Mr Bahr said: ‘I cannot yet give an all-clear, but after an analysis of the numbers there’s reason for hope.

‘The numbers are continuously falling – which nonetheless means that there can still be new cases and that one unfortunately has to expect new deaths too – but overall new infections are clearly going down.’

E.coli bacteria
E.coli bacteria

He asked that German health authorities work more closely with international experts to fight the epidemic.

‘We have to utilise the experience and expertise in all of Europe and even outside of Europe,’ he told daily newspaper Die Welt.

Health experts and politicians criticised Germany yesterday for a bungled investigation into the world’s deadliest E.coli outbreak, saying the infections should have been spotted much sooner.

The outbreak began on May 2 but German officials are still none the wiser as to its cause.

Spanish cucumbers were initially blamed, then ruled out after tests showed they had a different strain of E.coli.

On Sunday, investigators pointed the finger at German bean sprouts, only to backtrack a day later when tests came back negative. The sprouts are to have further tests.

German consumers are avoiding fruit and vegetables – supermarkets have reported losses between 30 per cent and 40 per cent in fresh produce.

In China, authorities have ordered stricter health inspections for travellers arriving from Germany to prevent the super-toxic strain from getting into the country.

The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Investigation and Quarantine said that authorities should strengthen temperature and medical checks of travellers from Germany.

The agency added that those experiencing nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea or fever should declare themselves to authorities or if already in China, seek medical attention immediately.