Nearly 50% of the elderly and 25% of postmenopausal women exhibit depressive symptoms.
According to the vascular depression hypothesis, cerebrovascular disease is associated with depressive symptoms and risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The current study showed that depressive symptoms in postmenopausal women were associated with a nearly 2-fold increased risk of amnestic mild cognitive impairment, which is thought to precede the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
A total of 7043 postmenopausal women who were participants in the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS) and the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study-Epidemiology of Cognitive Health Outcomes (WHIMS-ECHO) were assessed for depressive symptoms using the 8-item Burnam algorithm.
The women were followed for a median of 9.4 y and evaluated for mild cognitive impairment and dementia by a central adjudication committee.
Of the 7043 postmenopausal women, 557 (7.9%) were clinically depressed upon enrollment in the WHIMS. These women were at increased risk for amnestic mild cognitive impairment (HR=1.91), but not non-amnestic mild cognitive impairment (HR=1.39).
There was no association between depressive symptoms and dementia.