Anemia, Stroke and Death Risk

Anemia may increase patients' death risk after stroke

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Anyssa Garza, PharmD

(RxWiki News) Anemia, a condition marked by a low red blood cell count, may increase risk of death in those who have had a stroke, according to a new study.

Anemia has been found to be common in those presenting with acute stroke. Older people may also tend to have anemia and low hemoglobin levels. However, past studies on the link between anemia and the risk of death after stroke have shown conflicting results.

The researchers behind the current study looked at data involving over 8,000 patients who had been admitted to the hospital for stroke between 2003 and 2015.

Adults with anemia appeared to have a higher risk of death after having a stroke. In addition, those who had raised hemoglobin levels had worse outcomes and a higher risk of death. 

"We found that the likelihood of dying from ischemic stroke is about two times higher in people with anemia compared to those without it, and the risk of death from hemorrhagic stroke is about 1.5 times higher. So there's the potential for a much poorer outcome if somebody comes in with stroke and they're also anemic," said senior study author Dr. Phyo Myint, a professor of medicine of old age at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, in a press release. 

Knowing the link between anemia and stroke outcomes may enable doctors to target specific treatments in patients who are anemic, these researchers noted. An example would be treating an underlying cause of anemia, such as iron deficiency. In turn, this may improve stroke outcomes. 

This study was recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. 

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) NHS Foundation Trust Stroke Services and NNUH Research and Development Department funded this research. Dr. Myint received a small honorarium from ViForPharma on one occasion for serving on an advisory panel.

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Review Date: 
August 25, 2016
Last Updated:
August 29, 2016