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“It turned out that newer ones, the SSRIs, were not protective, and that was a surprise,” she said.

She said she hopes that publication of the study will influence drug companies to develop better antidepressants and get women to pay more attention to their cardiovascular risk factors.

“Hypertension is a risk factor for stroke and death and it is very badly controlled in the U.S. Although it has improved somewhat in the last decade, it still is far short of what it should be and it rises with age,” she said.

Another issue that might be a contributing factor to this, she said, was the fact that “an old woman may not be treated as aggressively as middle-aged men. Plus, older people tend not to adhere to medications, and then some people can’t afford them.”

The survey, she said, was observational and not a strictly clinical study with control groups and close monitoring.

“We don’t have clinical corroboration of depression. There was no psychiatric interview to see if a woman was depressed. We did screening as epidemiologists that has a lot of false positives and negatives,” she said.