Ischemic Stroke Risk Higher in Women With A-Fib

For younger women without vascular disease, risk tends to be higher but doesn't reach significance

FRIDAY, June 1 (HealthDay News) -- Women with atrial fibrillation have a moderately higher risk of ischemic stroke than men, even after accounting for multiple cofactors for stroke, according to a study published online May 31 in BMJ.

Leif Friberg, M.D., Ph.D., from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and colleagues analyzed the incidence of ischemic stroke in 100,802 patients with atrial fibrillation at any Swedish hospital or hospital-affiliated outpatient clinic between 2005 and 2008.

After a median of 1.2 years of follow-up, the researchers found that ischemic strokes were significantly more common in women than men (6.2 versus 4.2 percent per year), with a hazard ratio of 1.47 in univariate analysis and of 1.18 after adjusting for 35 cofactors for stroke. Increased stroke rates were seen for women in all strata of the congestive heart failure, hypertension, age, diabetes, and prior stroke score. The annual stroke rate in women under 65 with no vascular disease (lone atrial fibrillation) tended to be higher than men but did not reach statistical significance.

"Women with atrial fibrillation have a moderately increased risk of stroke compared with men, and thus, female sex should be considered when making decisions about anticoagulation treatment," Friberg and colleagues conclude.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry; one author has received funding from different manufacturers of drugs used to treat atrial fibrillation and thrombosis.

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