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Brain Trauma Increases Risk for Stroke, Study Finds

Update Date: Jun 28, 2013 01:57 PM EDT

Although doctors can warn patients about their risk of stroke due to lifestyle habits, such as diet and exercise, suffering from a stroke still takes people by surprise. Strokes occur when there is a blockage that prevents blood flow in the body, particularly the brain and they are fatal because strokes can strike at any moment in time and place. Due to the capricious nature of strokes, people's strongest method of protecting themselves is through preventative measures, which is why researchers have constantly attempted to identify contributing factors. In a new study, researchers discovered that traumatic brain injury could raise one's risk of suffering from a stroke.

The research team with head author, Dr. James Burke, a research fellow from the neurology department at the University of Michigan Medical School reviewed data from numerous databases that compiled adult medical cases in California. These patients had gone to an emergency room or were discharged from a hospital between 2005 and 2009. In this study alone, the researchers were able to evaluate the data of over 400,000 patients who had traumatic brain injury and over 700,000 people who had trauma but no brain injury. The average age of the participants was 50. Only around 20 percent of people who suffer from a stroke are under 65-years-old and the causes are often unknown.

The researchers calculated that after 28 months, around 1.1 percent of the participants who was treated for traumatic brain injury, which was around 11,000 patients, suffered from an ischemic stroke. An ischemic stroke specifically occurs when blood is blocked from the a part of the brain and according to the American Heart Association (AHA), this type of stroke is responsible for around 87 percent of all cases. The rate of people who had trauma without brain injury and suffered from an ischemic stroke was 0.9 percent.

The researchers took into account the variables that could contribute to strokes, which are heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, severity of the injury and age. They found that even after these factors were accounted for, people with traumatic brain injury were still at a higher risk of suffering from a stroke. They were 30 percent more likely than the other group without trauma to experience an ischemic stroke.

The researchers acknowledged the possibility that there is no relationship between the two factors since they did not find a cause-and-effect relationship. However, they reasoned that suffering from a traumatic brain injury could greatly affect blood flow. The researchers believe that this finding could provide help with future research looking into the effects of head injuries suffered in sports and other accidents. The researchers hope that eventually, researchers would be able to find a way to prevent strokes instead of treating it after they have already attacked the body.

The study was published in Neurology

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