Depressive Symptoms Following Stroke and Transient Ischemic Attack: Is It Time for a More Intensive Treatment Approach? Results From the TABASCO Cohort Study

Objective: To examine whether depressive symptoms after a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA) increase the risk of cognitive impairment and functional deterioration at 2-year follow-up.

Methods: Participants were survivors of first-ever, mild-to-moderate ischemic stroke or TIA from the TABASCO prospective cohort study who underwent 3T magnetic resonance imaging and were examined by a multiprofessional team 6, 12, and 24 months after the event using direct interviews, depression scales, and neurologic, neuropsychological, and functional evaluations. The main outcome was the development of cognitive impairment, either mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia. MCI was diagnosed by a decline on at least 1 cognitive domain ( 1.5 SD) of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment score and/or on the computerized neuropsychological battery, as compared with age- and education-matched published norms. Dementia was diagnosed by a consensus forum that included senior neurologists specializing in memory disorders and a neuropsychologist.

Results: Data were obtained from 306 consecutive eligible patients (mean age: 67.1 ± 10.0 years) who were admitted to the department of emergency medicine at the Tel Aviv Medical Center from April 1, 2008, to December 1, 2011, within 72 hours from onset of symptoms of TIA or stroke. Of these patients, 51 (16.7%) developed cognitive impairment during a 2-year follow-up. Multivariate regression analysis showed that a Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) score 6 at admission and at 6 months after the event was a significant independent marker of cognitive impairment 2 years after the stroke/TIA (OR = 3.62, 95% CI, 1.01–13.00; OR = 3.68, 95% CI, 1.03–13.21, respectively). A higher GDS score at 6 months was also related to a worse functional outcome (P < .001).

Conclusions: Our results support depression screening among stroke and TIA survivors as a tool to identify patients who are prone to have a worse cognitive and functional outcome. These patients may benefit from closer medical surveillance and a more intensive treatment approach.

Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT01926691

J Clin Psychiatry 2016;77(5):673–680

https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.14m09759