Impact of prestroke physical activity and citalopram treatment on poststroke depressive symptoms: a secondary analysis of data from the TALOS randomised controlled trial in Denmark

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Objectives To investigate the association between prestroke physical activity and depressive symptoms up to 6 months after stroke and examine if citalopram treatment modified the association.

Design A secondary analysis of data from the multicentre randomised controlled trial The Efficacy of Citalopram Treatment in Acute Ischemic Stroke (TALOS).

Setting and participants TALOS was conducted at multiple stroke centres in Denmark from 2013 to 2016. It enrolled 642 non-depressed patients with first-ever acute ischaemic stroke. Patients were eligible for this study if a prestroke physical activity level was assessed by the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE).

Interventions All patients were randomised to citalopram or placebo for 6 months.

Outcomes Depressive symptoms 1 and 6 months after stroke measured on the Major Depression Inventory (MDI) ranging from 0 to 50.

Results A total of 625 patients were included. Median (IQR) age was 69 (60–77) years, 410 (65.6%) were men, 309 (49.4 %) received citalopram and median (IQR) prestroke PASE score was 132.5 (76–197). Higher prestroke PASE quartile, compared with the lowest PASE quartile, was associated with fewer depressive symptoms both after 1 month (mean difference third quartile −2.3 (−4.2, –0.5), p=0.013, mean difference fourth quartile −2.4 (−4.3, –0.5), p=0.015) and 6 months after stroke (mean difference third quartile −3.3 (−5.5, –1.2), p=0.002, mean difference fourth quartile −2.8 (−5.2, –0.3), p=0.027). There was no interaction between citalopram treatment and prestroke PASE score on poststroke MDI scores (p=0.86).

Conclusions A higher prestroke physical activity level was associated with fewer depressive symptoms 1 and 6 months after stroke. Citalopram treatment did not seem to modify this association.

Trial registration numbers NCT01937182 ( and 2013-002253-30 (EUDRACT).
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere070822
JournalBMJ Open
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • Depression & mood disorders
  • Stroke

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