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White matter hyperintensities in post-stroke depression: a case control study


Objective Despite extensive research on post-stroke depression (PSD), the role of white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) in its pathogenesis remains uncertain. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between WMHs and PSD in Chinese patients with first or recurrent stroke.

Methods A cohort of 994 patients with acute ischaemic stroke admitted to the acute stroke unit of a university-affiliated regional hospital in Hong Kong was recruited. A psychiatrist administered the Structural Clinical Interview for DSM-IV to all patients and made a diagnosis of PSD 3 months after the index stroke. 78 (7.8%) patients had PSD; 78 stroke patients matched according to age and sex but without PSD served as a control group. The severity and location of WMHs were evaluated with MRI.

Results In comparison with the non-PSD group, patients in the PSD group were more likely to have severe deep WMHs (12.8% vs 1.3%; p=0.009). Severe deep WMHs remained an independent predictor of PSD in the multivariate analysis with an OR of 13.8 (p=0.016).

Conclusion The results suggest that WMHs may play a role in the development of PSD. The importance of WMHs in the treatment and outcome of PSD warrants further investigation.

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