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Can infections trigger a stroke?

New research investigates whether different types of infections can trigger a stroke.

A stroke occurs when the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen. The most common type of stroke is called an ischemic stroke, which occurs as a result of narrowed or blocked arteries. Other subtypes of strokes include intracerebral hemorrhage, which are caused by a ruptured blood vessel in the brain, and subarachnoid hemorrhage, characterized by bleeding in the inner lining of the brain. Some research suggests that there may be a possible link between infections and the risk of strokes. However, this potential association has not been thoroughly characterized.

A new study, published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke, investigated the relationship between different types of infections and the risk of stroke. The authors collected data between 2006 and 2013 from the New York State Inpatient Databases and the Emergency Department Databases. Health records were used to identify different types of infections, including skin, urinary tract, septicemia (blood infection), abdominal, and respiratory infections, and the subtype of stroke, including ischemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage, and subarachnoid hemorrhage.

The authors found that all types of infections were linked strongly with an increased likelihood of ischemic strokes, with the highest risk associated with urinary tract infections. The risk of intracerebral hemorrhage was associated with urinary tract infections, septicemia, and respiratory infections. In contrast, the risk of subarachnoid hemorrhage was only linked with respiratory infections and not any other type of infection.

The study found substantial evidence suggesting a strong link between infections and the risk of strokes. However, further studies need to be conducted to validate these findings in a larger group of patients, and to better understand the connection between infections and stroke. This information could be useful in identifying preventative strategies for stroke in patients with infections.

Written by Haisam Shah, BSc

Reference: Sebastian, S., Stein, L. K., & Dhamoon, M. S. (2019). Infection as a Stroke Trigger – Associations Between Different Organ System Infection Admissions and Stroke Subtype. Stroke.

Haisam Shah BSc
Haisam Shah BSc
Haisam is a first-year Masters student in the Department of Physiology at the University of Toronto. His research involves understanding the role of cardiac fibroblasts in the progressive development of cardiac fibrosis following a myocardial infarction. He graduated from McGill University with a Bachelors of Science – Honors in Pharmacology, where he had the opportunity of investigating potential combination therapies for Glioblastoma Multiforme.


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