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Study establishes link between duration of diabetes and risk of stroke


March 2, 2012 - Washington

The longer you have diabetes, the higher the risk of getting a stroke, according to a new study.

Researchers found that diabetes increased stroke risk 3 percent each year and tripled the risk for people who had diabetes for 10 years or more, compared to people without diabetes.

"The findings emphasize the chronic nature of diabetes and the fact that it damages the blood vessels over time," said Mitchell S V Elkind, MD, MS, the study's senior author and associate chairman of neurology for clinical research and training at Columbia University Medical Centre in New York City.

The findings also have public health implications.

"Although stroke rates have been declining overall, the increase in diabetes incidence over the same period may lead to a higher overall stroke burden in the future," Elking said.

While previous research examined the relationship of diabetes and stroke in women, this is the first to examine whether the length of time a man or woman has type 2 diabetes impacts the risk of ischemic stroke.

Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke caused by blocked blood flow to the brain. While diabetes is a known risk factor for stroke, the influence of diabetes duration is unclear.

As part of the Northern Manhattan Study (NOMAS), researchers followed 3,298 people (average age 69) who had never had a stroke. Nearly 22 percent of participants had type 2 diabetes at the start of the study. After an average nine years of follow-up, an additional 10 percent developed diabetes.

After considering other factors such as age, smoking history, physical activity, history of heart disease, blood pressure and cholesterol, researchers said that compared to people without diabetes, the risk of stroke increased:

70 percent in people with diabetes for less than five years;0 percent in people with diabetes for five to 10 years;hree-fold in people with diabetes for 10 years or more.

For people with diabetes, stroke risk may depend as much on how long you've had the condition as on the diagnosis itself, Elkind said.

The study has been published in Stroke, an American Heart Association journal.

ANI

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