New research published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Stroke, shows a direct link between urinary tract infections and an increased risk of ischemic stroke. These surprising new findings offer more insight into the connection between infections and stroke risk.
In the past, several infections have been identified as possible stoke triggers, but this new research has shown the strongest link being with urinary tract infections. These previous studies examined infections as triggers of stroke, but they were limited to the interaction of acute infections with ischemic stroke. These are a type of stroke caused by blocked blood vessels in the brain.
Multiple Types of Stoke
This new study looked at a wider range of infections and examined connections with two other types of stroke. This first being intracerebral hemorrhage, which is caused by a ruptured blood vessel in the brain. The second type examined was subarachnoid hemorrhage, which is a type of stroke that results from blood in the inner lining of the brain.
Mandip Dhamoon, senior study author and associate professor of neurology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City spoke about the study, “Healthcare providers need to be aware that stroke can be triggered by infections. Probing into the previous weeks or months of a patient’s life before the stroke can sometimes help to illuminate the possible causes of stroke if there was an infection during that time.”
For the study, researchers looked to the New York State Inpatient Databases and Emergency Department Databases from 2006 to 2013. These databases record all inpatient and emergency department visits to community hospitals in New York state. Hospitalizations and emergency department visits were identified for three types of stroke and infections including skin, urinary tract, abdominal, respiratory, and septicemia (blood infection). Records for hospitalization for infections were considered for 7, 14, 30, 60, 90, and 120 days prior to the stroke occurrence.
In cases of ischemic stroke, researchers found that every infection type was connected to an increased likelihood of this type of stoke. The strongest link, however, shown with three times the increased risk was seen with urinary tract infection. This link between ischemic stroke and urinary tract infection was found to be true for up to 30 days after infection. For all types of infection, the stroke risk decreased as the time period before ischemic stroke occurred increased.
For intracerebral hemorrhage, the study showed the strongest connections for urinary tract infections, septicemia, and respiratory infections. Respiratory infection was the only infection related to the occurrence of subarachnoid hemorrhage.
Researchers concluded the study by issuing the statement, “Our study shows that we need to do more to understand why and how infections are associated with the occurrence of different kinds of stroke, and that will help us to determine what we can do to prevent these types of strokes. These findings suggest that there could be implications for vaccination, antibiotic regimens or intensive antithrombotic treatments not only to prevent the infections but to prevent stroke in those who are deemed high-risk.”