Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a commonly prescribed antidepressant, are not associated with an increased risk of intracerebral hemorrhage, the deadliest type of stroke, according to a preliminary study presented at the 73rd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.
An intracerebral hemorrhage is when a blood vessel bursts in the brain and sends blood to the surrounding tissue. The most common causes are high blood pressure and head trauma, but some studies have also suggested that SSRIs can increase a person’s risk of this type of hemorrhagic stroke.
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“Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors work by preventing the reabsorption of the mood-regulating chemical serotonin in cells, making it more available in the brain,” explains study author Mithilesh Siddu of the University of Miami and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.
“However, by interfering with serotonin, which also plays a role in blood clotting, SSRIs can increase the risk of bleeding,” he continues. Therefore, to determine if these antidepressants increase the risk of bleeding brain, we analyzed a large population of people with strokes.”
For the study, the researchers identified 127,915 people who had a stroke between 2010 and 2019. A total of 17,009 people had been prescribed antidepressants before their stroke, and the other 110,906 had never been prescribed an SSRI.
The researchers found that 11% of people who had been prescribed antidepressants had an intracerebral hemorrhage, compared to 14% of people who had not.
After adjusting for other factors that could affect your risk of stroke, such as age, high blood pressure, and diabetes, researchers found that people taking antidepressants were just as likely to experience intracerebral hemorrhage as people who didn’t take those medications.
“These findings are important, especially since depression is common after a stroke and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are some of the first drugs considered for people,” Siddu says. “More research is needed to confirm our findings. findings and also to examine whether SSRIs prescribed after stroke may be related to the risk of a second stroke.