Painful Autoimmune Diseases = 50% Increased Risk of Stroke, Study Says

Painful Autoimmune Diseases = 50% Increased Risk of Stroke, Study Says

People with painful autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), psoriatic arthritis or shingles have a 50% higher risk of suffering from a stroke, according to study presented at the 2015 American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and the Association for Rheumatology Health Professional (ARHP) annual meeting.

Dr. Leonard H. Calabrese, who is the vice chair of rheumatic and immunologic diseases at the Cleveland Clinic, led a team of researchers who analyzed Medicare data from 2006 to 2012. They identified 51,000 patients diagnosed with shingles and other painful autoimmune diseases, then looked for hospitalizations for ischemic stroke at one-, six- and 12-month intervals after their diagnosis.

What they found was the at stroke was 1.5 times more likely during the first six months after diagnosis compared to the 2-6 years that follow.

They also uncovered that there is a difference between those who have more complicated cases compared to those who do not. The complicated cases had a hazard ratio for stroke of 3.2 in the first 30 days compared to 1.6 in the uncomplicated group.

Patients who were prescribed antivirals with seven days of their shingles diagnoses had a 16% lower stroke risk than those who were not on antivirals.

Calabrese told Dermatology Times, that a prompt diagnosis and prompt treatment of shingles is important with respect to reducing the risk of stroke.  He also noted that patients on immunosuppressive therapies or have had vaccines are “of increased importance now, viewing the risk of stroke.”

About Strokes and What to Do:

A stroke, or “brain attack,” occurs when an obstruction (usually a fatty deposit) blocks the blood vessel supplying blood to the brain.  Symptoms of stroke include trouble walking, speaking, and understanding, as well as paralysis or numbness of the face, arm, or leg. Early treatment with medications can minimize brain damage. Other treatments focus on limiting complications and preventing additional strokes.

If you see any signs of stroke, think “FAST” and seek immediate medical attention:

  • Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift or droop downward?
  • Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is his or her speech slurred or strange?
  • Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.

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Authored by: Staff

There are 3 comments for this article
  1. Alex at 8:25 pm

    I use Enbrel and methotrexate and they made a huge difference. My feet used to hurt so much I would cry when I got out of bed and took my first steps each day. I thought I had vestibular problems because my balance was so bad. Then, after a month of Enbrel, I started to feel patches of the floor. And one day, I woke up, walked downstairs and–I just walked downstairs. No crying. No pain. I walked like a normal person. I couldn’t believe it. Enbrel has some scary side effects, but so does the chronic inflammation of rheumatic disease. Alternative medicine is always nice and helpful, but I loves me my Enbrel.

  2. Kristine (Krissy) at 1:15 pm

    I have RA and other autoimmune diseases. My doctor is suggesting a biologic. He has never put me on any of the designer drugs or those with the awful side effects. Is anyone experienced with biologics? I want to know about safety, side effects, problems anyone has had…beyond what sites like WebMD, etc. lists. Thank you.

  3. Stephen S. Rodrigues, MD at 10:47 am

    So stroke is a side effect of using the medications to treat these “autoimmune problems?”

    Over use of the toxic medications is rampant due to the ignorance and denials related to the most common primary location of everyday aches pains and stiffness; muscles.

    Under use of CAMs is tragic due to the same blinders and misunderstandings.

    Many of these pain problem may be layered over the treatable muscle pain problems. Here is a short list: This is the full spectrum:
    Massage, radiant and IR heat, cold, spray and stretch, Cold Lasers, full forced hands-on physical therapy, full yoga and Pilates instructions, full range of motion exercises, traction, inversion, Full Chiropractic services, spinal adjustments, scraping, cupping, brushing and active tissue release.

    Within the fascia and into the muscle as Intramuscular Stimulation with tools which can safely reach inside the muscle bundles: acupuncture, GunnIMS, and other tools that are metallic thin filament wire-like needles. [emphasis on the concept of intramuscular stimulative needling]

    Intramuscular stimulation with tools which can also cut densely packed muscle bands: prolotherapy, tendon and ligament injections, dry and wet intramuscular hypodermic needling. [emphasis on the idea of intramuscular stimulative needling]