Exposure to several common infections over time may be associated with risk of stroke

Nov 09, 2009

Cumulative exposure to five common infection-causing pathogens may be associated with an increased risk of stroke, according to a report posted online today that will appear in the January 2010 print issue of Archives of Neurology.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death and leading cause of serious disability in the United States, according to background information in the article. Known risk factors include high , heart disease, abnormal cholesterol levels and smoking, but many strokes occur in patients with none of these factors. "There is therefore interest in identifying additional modifiable risk factors," the authors write.

Some evidence exists that prior infection with pathogens such as herpes viruses promotes inflammation, contributes to arterial disease and thereby increases risk. Mitchell S. V. Elkind, M.D., M.S., of Columbia University Medical Center, New York, and colleagues studied 1,625 adults (average age 68.4) living in the multi-ethnic urban community of northern Manhattan, New York. Blood was obtained from all participants—none of whom had a stroke—and was tested for antibodies indicating prior exposure to five common pathogens: pneumoniae, Helicobacter pylori, and 1 and 2. A weighted composite index of exposure to all five pathogens was developed.

Participants were followed up annually over a median (midpoint) of 7.6 years. During this time period, 67 had strokes. "Each individual infection was positively, though not significantly, associated with stroke risk after adjusting for other risk factors," the authors write. "The infectious burden index was associated with an increased risk of all strokes after adjusting for demographics and risk factors."

There were several reasons to investigate these five particular pathogens, the authors note. "First, each of these common pathogens may persist after an and thus contribute to perpetuating a state of chronic, low-level infection," they write. "Second, prior studies demonstrated an association between each of these pathogens and cardiovascular diseases." Studies examining several of these pathogens individually have suggested some may contribute to stroke risk.

"Our study could have potential clinical implications," the authors conclude. "For example, treatment and eradication of these chronic pathogens might mitigate future risk of stroke. Antibiotic therapy directed against C pneumoniae has been tested in randomized controlled trials without evidence of benefit against heart disease. Whether the same holds true for stroke has not yet been established. More studies will be required to further explore infectious burden as a potential modifiable risk factor for stroke."

More information: Arch Neurol 2010; 67(1), doi:10.1001/archneurol.2009.271

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals (news : web)

Explore further: Neurons can be reprogrammed to switch the emotional association of a memory

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cholesterol-lowering drugs and the risk of hemorrhagic stroke

Dec 12, 2007

People taking cholesterol-lowering drugs such as atorvastatin after a stroke may be at an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke, or bleeding in the brain, a risk not found in patients taking statins who have never had a stroke. ...

Protein may predict heart attack and early death, not stroke

Oct 19, 2009

People with high levels of a protein called C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker for inflammation in the blood, may be at higher risk for heart attack and death but not stroke, according to a study published in the October ...

Job strain associated with stroke in Japanese men

Jan 12, 2009

Japanese men in high-stress jobs appear to have an increased risk of stroke compared with those in less demanding positions, according to a report in the January 12 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Kidney disease increases the risk of stroke in patients

Mar 04, 2009

Chronic kidney disease increases the risk of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common type of heart arrhythmia, according to a new study by Kaiser Permanente researchers in the current online issue ...

Recommended for you

Emotional adjustment following traumatic brain injury

2 hours ago

Life after a traumatic brain injury resulting from a car accident, a bad fall or a neurodegenerative disease changes a person forever. But the injury doesn't solely affect the survivor – the lives of their spouse or partner ...

New ALS associated gene identified using innovative strategy

Oct 22, 2014

Using an innovative exome sequencing strategy, a team of international scientists led by John Landers, PhD, at the University of Massachusetts Medical School has shown that TUBA4A, the gene encoding the Tubulin Alpha 4A protein, ...

User comments : 0