New research suggests that use of Prozac following a stroke does not help a person recover, and fails to result in any less disability, yet may increase their risk of suffering a bone fracture.
In a study published in the medical journal The Lancet on January 19, researchers from the University of Edinburgh evaluated the risks and effectiveness of Prozac (fluoxetine) use among individuals who suffered a stroke, as prior findings have suggested the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) may help reduce disability.
Researchers recruited patients from 103 hospitals in the UK to participate in the FOCUS study, which was a double-blind randomized control trial funded by the Stroke Association and the National Institute for Health Research.
Patients were 18 and older, with a clinical stroke diagnosis and focal neurological deficits. They were enrolled between two and 15 days after suffering a stroke. They were then randomly assigned to take 20 mg of Prozac or a placebo daily for six months.
More than 3,000 patients were recruited, about half of whom were given Prozac and the other half were given a placebo, with no active drug.
Overall, researchers noted no difference in physical disability between patients who took Prozac and those who took the placebo.
Patients given Prozac were not less likely to suffer disability or recover any better than those who didn’t take the drug. More so, patients given Prozac suffered more bone fractures than the placebo group.
Researchers noted the group given Prozac had less occurrences of depression, but it did not improve functional ability or help promote recovery.
The findings do not support the practice of giving stroke patients Prozac to simply help treat depression after stroke, according to researchers, as the improvements were moderate.
“Fluoxetine 20 mg given daily for 6 months after acute stroke does not seem to improve functional outcomes,” wrote study authors. “Although the treatment reduced the occurrence of depression, it increased the frequency of bone fractures. These results do not support the routine use of fluoxetine either for the prevention of post-stroke depression or to promote recovery of function.”