Depression, non-fatal stroke and all-cause mortality in old age: A prospective cohort study of primary care patients

Sebastian Kohler*, Frans Verhey, Siegfried Weyerer, Birgitt Wiese, Kathrin Heser, Michael Wagner, Michael Pentzek, Angela Fuchs, Mirjam Kohler, Cadja Bachmann, Steffi G. Riedel Heller, Melanie Luppa, Sandra Eifflaender-Gorfer, Jochen Werle, Horst Bickel, Edelgard Mosh, Hans-Helmut Konig, Christian Brettschneider, Martin Scherer, Wolfgang Maier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Depression is a risk factor for stroke and mortality but whether this also holds into old age is uncertain. We therefore studied the association of depression with the risk for non-fatal stroke and all-cause mortality in very old age. Methods: A representative sample of 3085 primary care patients aged >= 75 years were serially assessed during a 6-year follow-up. The relation between depression (Geriatric Depression Scale >6, n=261) and relevant covariates including vascular risk factors and disease, functional and mild cognitive impairment and ApoE genotype on primary care givers information of incident stroke (n=209) and mortality (n=647) were assessed by Cox regression and by competing risk regressions. Results: Depression was not independently associated with incident stroke in fully adjusted models that treated death as the competing event (subdistribution hazard ratio=0.80, 95% confidence interval =0.47 to 1.36). The risk associated with depression was similar for men and women, and for age groups 75-79, 80-84 and >= 85 years. In contrast, depression increased all-cause mortality rates, even after adjusting for a range of confounders (hazard ratio =1.31, 95% confidence interval =1.03 to 1.67). Limitations: We have no information on past depressive episodes and cause of death. Conclusions: In contrast to reports in younger populations, depression does not appear to increase stroke risk among the old and very old, but continuous to be a risk factor for all-cause mortality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-69
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2013


  • Cerebrovascular accident
  • Depression
  • Epidemiology
  • Prevention
  • Risk factors
  • Mortality


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