Stroke And Dissection Of Neck Arteries: Scientists Reminded Of The Dangers Of Flu-like Diseases

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Stroke And Dissection Of Neck Arteries: Scientists Reminded Of The Dangers Of Flu-like Diseases
Stroke And Dissection Of Neck Arteries: Scientists Reminded Of The Dangers Of Flu-like Diseases

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Stroke and dissection of neck arteries: scientists reminded of the dangers of flu-like diseases

As many as two new studies have examined the health risks people face after influenza and flu-like illnesses. During the first days after the illness, the probability of some dangerous ones increases significantly.

Stroke and dissection of neck arteries: scientists reminded of the dangers of flu-like diseases
Stroke and dissection of neck arteries: scientists reminded of the dangers of flu-like diseases

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Flu-like illnesses are associated with an increased risk of stroke and cervical artery dissection (dissection), according to two preliminary studies to be presented at the 2019 American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference in Honolulu.

Both studies were conducted at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, New York. The database used was the New York State Department of Health Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System (SPARCS).

In the first study, researchers found that having flu-like illnesses increased the likelihood of stroke by nearly 40% over the next 15 days. This increased risk persisted for up to one year.

Researchers assessed the likelihood of hospitalization for ischemic stroke after hospitalization for an influenza-like illness. They identified 30,912 patients with ischemic stroke in 2014 by looking at inpatient and outpatient medical records for 2012–2014. The average age of the participants was 71.9 years, 49% were men, 20% were black, 84% were urban.

The researchers compared each patient's "case window" - the time prior to stroke - with the time window for a series of control periods using the same dates from the previous two years. The analysis was stratified by urban and rural status, gender, and race.

“We expected to see differences in the influenza-stroke relationship between rural and urban areas. Instead, we found that the connection … was the same between people living in rural and urban areas, as well as for men and women, and between racial groups,”said study lead author Amelia K. Boehme, assistant professor Columbia University in New York.

The researchers theorized that this could be due to inflammation caused by the infection.

A second study found an increased risk of cervical artery rupture within one month after influenza-like illness. Nontraumatic dissection of the cervical artery is the main cause of ischemic stroke in patients aged 15 to 45 years.

Researchers reviewed 3861 cases (mean age 52 years, 55% men) of the first nontraumatic dissection of the cervical artery in 2006–2014. They found 1,736 cases of influenza-like illness and 113 cases of influenza in the three years leading up to cervical artery dissection.

The likelihood of dissection of the cervical artery within 30 days after influenza-like illness was higher than in the same period after one to two years.

“Our results show that the risk of dissection after influenza disappears over time. This trend indicates that influenza-like illnesses may indeed cause dissection,”said co-author Madeleine Hunter.

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