Study analysis finds stroke risks among people taking SSRI antidepressants

A recent analysis of data available on the popular antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) found a link between their use and an increased risk of a bleeding stroke.

According to a report, the study from Western University at London, Ontario, Canada, examined the results of 16 previous studies conducted on the risks associated with taking this popular class of antidepressant drugs. The drugs included in the study include Paxil, Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, and Zoloft. Millions of Americans are currently prescribed these drugs in the treatment of moderate to severe forms of depression and for several other approved and off-label purposes.

Study authors say the overall risk of stroke associated with taking SSRI drugs is low but still present. People taking SSRI drugs are 40-50 percent more likely to suffer a stroke than a person not taking any of these drugs, the studies found, according to the analysis. Normally, 25 out of every 100,000 people per year face the risk of suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. That risk increases by one person per 100,000 among people taking SSRI drugs per year.

This analysis notes that the relationship between SSRI use and cerebral hemorrhaging and stroke is a link and the life-threatening condition is not exactly a direct result of taking one of these antidepressant drugs. Previous studies have linked use of SSRI drugs to gastrointestinal hemorrhaging but research confirming a link between this drug use and cerebral hemorrhage was sparse.

This study adds to evidence of the dangers of taking SSRI antidepressant drugs, among the most commonly written prescriptions in the U.S. each year. People who already face an increased risk of stroke, such as people taking anticoagulant or blood thinning medications to prevent stroke, should be more aware of the risks associated with the antidepressant drugs.

This risk is in addition to already serious risks pregnant women face if they’re taking SSRI drugs. These drugs pose risks to children born to women taking SSRI antidepressants in that they are known to cause severe and some life-threatening birth defects. Some of the most commonly reported birth defects of children born to women who take SSRI drugs are congenital heart defects, Down’s syndrome, blindness, spina bifida, clubfoot, cleft lip and cleft palate, and a very serious side effect known as Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN).


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