Vascular risk factors in older patients with depression: outcome of electroconvulsive therapy versus medication: outcome of electroconvulsive therapy versus medication

Harm-Pieter Spaans, Rob M. Kok, Filip Bouckaert, Julia F. van den Berg, Orlaith C. Tunney, Pascal Sienaert, Esmée Verwijk, King H. Kho, Max L. Stek

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Research suggests that in depression, vascular burden predicts a lower efficacy for medication (MED) and a more favourable outcome for electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Therefore, we investigated the influence of the following vascular risk factors (VRF): hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, smoking, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, and cerebral vascular accident/transient ischemic attack, on remission from major depression after ECT versus MED. Methods: The study sample consisted of 81 inpatients with a DSM-IV unipolar major depression diagnosis (mean age 72.2 years, SD = 7.6, mean Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale score 32.9, SD = 6.2) participating in a randomized controlled trial comparing nortriptyline versus venlafaxine and 43 inpatients (mean age 73.7 years, SD = 7.5, mean Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale score 30.6, SD = 7.1) from an randomized controlled trial comparing brief pulse versus ultrabrief pulse ECT. The presence of VRF was established from the medical records. The remission rate of patients with VRF was compared with those of patients without VRF. Results: The remission rate was 58% (19/33) in the ECT group with ≥1 VRF and 32% (23/73) in the MED group with ≥1 VRF (χ2 = 6.456, p = 0.011). Comparing patients with no VRF versus ≥1 VRF, the remission rate decreased from 80 to 58% (χ2 = 1.652, p = 0.276) in ECT patients and from 38 to 32% (χ2 = 0.119, p = 0.707) in MED patients. Applying different cut-offs for the number of VRFs yielded the same trends. Logistic regression revealed no interaction between VRF and treatment condition. Conclusion: The superior efficacy of ECT over pharmacotherapy in major depression in older age was independent of the presence of VRF. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-378
Number of pages8
JournalInternational journal of geriatric psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • antidepressants
  • depression
  • efficacy
  • electroconvulsive therapy
  • older
  • vascular risk factors

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