Traumatic Brain Injuries Can Increase Risk of Stroke for Up to 5 Years

April 13, 2021
Stroke risk for patients with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) is at its highest in the 4 months following injury and remains significant for up to 5 years post-injury, according to a study published in the International Journal of Stroke. Previous studies have associated TBI with a long-term risk of neurological diseases including dementia, Parkinson’s and epilepsy, and TBI has been proposed as an independent risk factor for stroke. This latest review, which brings together 18 studies from 4 countries is the first of its kind to investigate post-injury stroke risk. The review showed that patients with TBI have an 86% increased risk of stroke compared with patients who have not experienced a TBI. The risk of stroke was highest in the first 4 months after injury, but remained significant for up to 5 years. The findings suggest that TBI is a risk factor for stroke regardless of the severity or subtype of the injury. The study also found that the use of anticoagulants could help to reduce stroke risk post-TBI, while the use of some classes of antidepressants were associated with increased stroke risk post-TBI. “Stroke is the second leading cause of death and third leading cause of disability worldwide; however, urgent treatment can prevent stroke related death and long-term disability,” said Grace Turner, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama. “Our review found some evidence to suggest an association between reduced stroke risk post-TBI and the use of vitamin K antagonists and statins but, as previous studies have found, stroke prevention drugs are often stopped when an individual experiences a TBI.” She said more research is required to investigate the effectiveness of stroke prevention drugs post-TBI to help inform clinicians’ prescribing and facilitate shared decision making. “As our review has shown, patients with TBI should be informed of the potential for increased stroke risk and with the risk of stroke at its highest in the first 4 months post-injury, this is a critical time period to educate patients and their caregivers on stroke risk and symptoms,” said Dr. Turner. “This initial 4-month period should also be used by clinicians to administer stroke prevention medication and lifestyle advice to mitigate the excess risk of stroke associated with TBI.” Reference: SOURCE: University of Birmingham