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Antidepressant May Aid Post-Stroke Cognitive Recovery

Last Updated: February 02, 2010.

Stroke patients who receive the antidepressant escitalopram within three months of their stroke show improvement in cognitive functioning as compared to those receiving either placebo or Problem Solving Therapy, according to a study in the February issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

TUESDAY, Feb. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Stroke patients who receive the antidepressant escitalopram within three months of their stroke show improvement in cognitive functioning as compared to those receiving either placebo or Problem Solving Therapy, according to a study in the February issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Ricardo E. Jorge, M.D., of the University of Iowa in Iowa City, and colleagues randomized 129 subjects who had suffered a stroke within the past three months to either treatment with escitalopram, placebo or Problem Solving Therapy. The groups were tracked for changes from baseline in scores on the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS) to assess cognitive recovery, including verbal function and visual memory.

The researchers noted differences among the groups in RBANS total score and RBANS delayed memory score. After adjustment, the escitalopram group had a mean change of 10.0 points compared to 3.1 points in the combined non-escitalopram groups. The adjusted mean change in RBANS delayed memory score was 11.3 points in the escitalopram group and 2.5 percent in the non-escitalopram group. Treatment effects were not observed for other neuropsychological measures.

"When compared with patients who received placebo or underwent Problem Solving Therapy, stroke patients who received escitalopram showed improvement in global cognitive functioning, specifically in verbal and visual memory functions," the authors write. "This beneficial effect of escitalopram was independent of its effect on depression. The utility of antidepressants in the process of post-stroke recovery should be further investigated."

Several of the authors reported receiving travel grants, research support, speaking fees, advisory fees, or consulting fees from multiple pharmaceutical companies (none in connection with this study).

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