According to research presented at the 2014 American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference, suffering a head or neck injury can increase the risk of ischemic stroke three-fold among trauma patients younger than age 50. Researchers studied the health records of 1.3 million patients younger than 50 years who had been treated in emergency trauma rooms, and about 11 of every 100,000 patients had suffered a stroke within 4 weeks. The data suggests that 214 young people a month have an ischemic stroke after a trauma as 2 million patients are seen in US trauma rooms monthly.

According to an American Heart Association (AHA) news release, the researchers also note that about 48 in 100,000 young adults and 11 of 100,000 children who had a head or neck injury had a stroke. In addition, patients with stroke were, on average, 37 years old, while those who did not have a stroke were, on average, 24 years old. Christine Fox, MD, states, “These findings are important because strokes after trauma might be preventable.”

The AHA news release indicates that one cause of stroke after trauma is a tear in the head or neck blood vessels that lead to the brain, and if a tear in these arteries can be diagnosed at the time of trauma, then a patient can be treated with an anti-clotting medicine to help prevent stroke. In the study, 10% of the people who had a stroke were diagnosed with this kind of tear, but not all patients were diagnosed with it prior to stroke.

The AHA news release notes that the incidence rate of stroke among trauma patients found in this study was determined using a fairly broad definition of trauma. As such, one of the next steps in the study will be to measure stroke incidence after different types of trauma, such as car accidents, and injuries, such as vertebral fractures, in order to determine who might be at a high risk of stroke, according to Fox.

[Source: American Heart Association]