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Study links inflammatory bowel disease to increased risk of stroke

IBD, which causes chronic inflammation of the intestines, includes Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and unclassified inflammatory bowel disease.

People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are more likely to have a stroke than people without the condition, according to a new study.

Researchers say the findings suggest that screening and management of stroke risk factors could be more urgent in people who have the disease.

IBD, which causes chronic inflammation of the intestines, includes Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and unclassified inflammatory bowel disease.

The new research found that people with IBD were 13% more likely to have a stroke up to 25 years after their diagnosis than people without IBD.

Study author Jiangwei Sun, of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, said: “These results show that people with inflammatory bowel disease and their doctors should be aware of this long-term increased risk.

“Screening and management of stroke risk factors may be more urgent in people with IBD.”

Some 85,006 people with IBD were involved in the study and matched with up to five people of the same birth year, sex and county of residence who did not have IBD.

During an average follow-up of 12 years, 3,720 of the people with IBD had a stroke, compared with 15,599 of the people who did not have IBD.

When the researchers accounted for other factors that could affect stroke risk, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity, they found that people with IBD were 13% more likely to have a stroke than those without IBD.

According to the findings, the increased risk was mainly due to ischemic stroke – caused by a blockage of blood flow to the brain – rather than haemorrhagic stroke, a stroke caused by bleeding in the brain.

Researchers also looked at the link between IBD and stroke in siblings, because both stroke and IBD can have genetic components.

The 101,082 siblings involved in the study had no history of IBD or stroke at the beginning of the research.

Like the main findings, this part of the study found that people with IBD had a higher risk of stroke than their siblings without IBD.

Their overall risk was 11% higher, the study suggests.

According to the research, the elevated risk for people with IBD remained even 25 years after they were first diagnosed.

The findings are published in the Neurology journal.

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