Brain injury lawyers are aware of the link between traumatic brain injury and the development of a number of neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. However, a new study also links brain injury to an increased chance of stroke. Persons with a traumatic brain injury are at a much higher chance of suffering a stroke within three months after the injury. A stroke occurs when blood flow to a portion of the brain is interrupted or severely reduced. The lack of blood flow deprives brain cells of oxygen causing the cells to die.
The results of the study have been published in the journal, Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association. The researchers analyzed records of 23,199 patients with a traumatic brain injury and compared the records with 69,597 persons who had not suffered a traumatic injury. These persons were then monitored for a period of five years to gauge their risk of stroke.
Researchers found that over a period of three months, 2.91% of the patients who had suffered a traumatic brain injury suffered a stroke, compared to just .30% of the persons who had not suffered a brain injury. That makes it a tenfold difference in the risk of stroke between the two groups.
The risk of suffering a stroke seemed to decline three months after the injury, but people who had suffered a brain injury continued to be at a higher risk of suffering stroke compared to those without a brain injury. The risk at one year was about 4.6 times higher. After five years, the stroke risk had declined even further, but even then, it was still about 2.3 times higher than for those who had not suffered a brain injury. The stroke risk was seen to increase if the person had suffered a traumatic brain injury that included a skull fracture.
The researchers are not sure why a brain injury increases the risk of a stroke but believe that head trauma possibly damages the brain blood cells, interfering with blood supply and increasing the risk of a stroke.