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Head Injury Linked to Increase in Incident Ischemic Stroke

Dose-response association seen for risk for stroke with number of head injuries, but no association seen for severity

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Sept. 15, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Head injury is associated with an increased risk for incident ischemic stroke, with evidence of a dose-response association with the number of head injuries, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Neurological Association, held from Sept. 9 to 12 in Philadelphia.

Holly Elser, M.D., Ph.D., from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues examined the association between prior head injury and incident ischemic stroke among 11,833 individuals from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study who had no history of head injury, stroke, or cardiovascular disease at baseline.

During study follow-up, head injuries occurred in 1,973 participants (16.7 percent) and were mainly classified as mild. The researchers observed an association for head injury with an increased risk for subsequent ischemic stroke in adjusted Cox models (hazard ratio, 1.42). Accounting for the competing risk for mortality, the association was slightly stronger but consistent (hazard ratio, 1.88). A dose-response association for the risk for stroke was seen in association with the number of head injuries in a secondary analysis (hazard ratios, 1.27 and 2.04 for one and two or more, respectively, versus none); no association was seen for severity.

“The findings underscore the importance of public health interventions to reduce the risk of head injury as well as measures aimed at stroke prevention among individuals with a prior head injury,” Elser said in a statement.

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