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Traumatic Brain Injury Dramatically Increases Risk for Stroke

If you suffer traumatic brain injury, your risk of having a stroke within three months may increase tenfold, according to a new study reported in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

“It’s reasonable to assume that cerebrovascular damage in the head caused by a traumatic brain injury can trigger either a hemorrhagic stroke [when a blood vessel bursts inside the brain] or an ischemic stroke [when an artery in the brain is blocked],” said Herng-Ching Lin, Ph.D., senior study author and professor at the School of Health Care Administration, College of Medicine, Taipei Medical University in Taiwan. “However, until now, no research had been done showing a correlation between traumatic brain injury and stroke.”

It is the first study that pinpoints traumatic brain injury as a potential risk factor for subsequent stroke.

Stroke risk in patients with traumatic brain injury decreased gradually over time, researchers said: After one year, the risk was about 4.6 times greater for patients who suffered a traumatic brain injury than for those who had not. After five years, the risk was 2.3 times greater for traumatic brain injury patients.

Stroke risk among traumatic brain injury patients with skull bone fractures was more pronounced than in traumatic brain injury patients without fractures, researchers said. During the first three months, those with skull bone fractures were 20 times more likely to have a stroke than patients without skull bone fractures. The risk decreased over time.

Furthermore, the risk of subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding in the area between the brain and the thin tissues that cover the brain) and intracerebral hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain caused by the rupture of a blood vessel) increased significantly in patients with traumatic brain injury versus non-traumatic brain injury patients.

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