Try smiling more – it can reduce stroke risk by up to 46%, research suggests

Try smiling more — it can lower your stroke risk by as much as 46%, research suggests

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

A joint US and European research team found that people with the mental disorder had a 46 percent increased chance of experiencing a potentially fatal neurological event.

Those who have more symptoms of depression are even more likely to have a stroke. Of the 26,877 study participants, those who had at least five symptoms had a 56 percent increased risk.

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

A notable case of co-occurring depression and stroke is that of Senator John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, who recently stepped down from his legislative duties due to his health problems.

People suffering from depression are at sharply increased risk of stroke, new study finds (file photo)

People suffering from depression are at sharply increased risk of stroke, new study finds (file photo)

“Depression affects people all over the world and can have a wide range of consequences in a person’s life,” said Dr. Robert Murphy, lead author from the University of Galway in Ireland, said in a statement.

About 800,000 Americans have a stroke each year. More than one in five leads to death.

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

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

Previous research has linked depression to low platelet counts, increasing the risk of fatal clotting.

The research team, which published its findings Wednesday in the journal Neurology, looked at the magnitude of the risk.

‘In this study, we gained a deeper understanding of how depressive symptoms may contribute to stroke,’ said Dr Murphy.

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

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

Of the people from whom they collected data, half had had a stroke and half had not.

Participants were questioned about pre-existing health problems, such as heart, brain, and mental health issues.

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

After adjusting for other risk factors, researchers found a 46 percent increased risk of stroke in depressed people.

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

“Our results show that depressive symptoms were associated with an increased risk of stroke and that the risk was similar between different age groups and across the world.”

Those who experience five or more symptoms of depression are at even greater risk.

Their stroke risk increased by 56 percent compared to their peers.

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