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SSRI cut disability and depression after stroke

SSRIs are effective at improving some stroke outcomes, including depression, according to a new Cochrane review.

The analysis found that SSRIs significantly improved neurological deficit in post-stroke patients compared to placebo or usual care.

Similarly, disability – as measured on a number of disability scores – improved significantly in patients treated with SSRIs compared to usual care, with a standardised mean difference of 0.91.

SSRIs also reduced the risk of depression by 57% compared to placebo or usual care.

The review included 52 randomised controlled trials, totalling 4,059 patients with a diagnosis of stroke who had been given an SSRI within the first year of stroke onset. There were no restrictions on dose or length of time with regard to SSRI prescriptions.

Study lead Professor Gillian Mead, professor of stroke and elderly care medicine at the University of Edinburgh, said: ‘This review data provides evidence of benefit of SSRI for reducing disability and neurological impairment scores in people with stroke.’

Cochrane 2012, available online 14 November.


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