On August 31, Massachusetts General Hospital researchers published a single-center observational cohort study in the medical journal JAMA Neurology, indicating that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants, prescribed to individuals after suffering a stroke, may increase the risk of suffering a brain bleed later.
The intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) study involved 1,200 adults who were hospitalized, treated, and discharged after suffering from a stroke. The ICH survivors had depression from January 2006 to December 2017 and were followed for 54 months.
SSRIs, such as Paxil or Zoloft, are widely used to treat depression after a stroke caused by brain bleeds. According to the study, the increased risk of ICH recurrence or having another brain bleed was more for patients with preexisting clinical, genetic, or neuroimaging risk factors for hemorrhagic stroke. The patients were 71 years old, on average, and the risk heightened in people who consumed SSRI antidepressants as compared to the ones who didn't, as per the report.
In a study published in 2016, SSRI antidepressants were linked to a higher risk of recurring brain bleeds among patients taking blood thinners like Warfarin or Xarelto.
The researchers concluded that although SSRIs are considered the primary treatment after stroke, it may not be the best course of treatment for patients who have a higher risk of brain bleeds after stroke and may lead to another hemorrhagic bleed in the brain. The researchers also warned doctors to weigh the decision to treat depression among stroke survivors with SSRIs against the increased risk of the patient suffering another brain bleed.