Fibromyalgia is likely associated with an increased risk for stroke, according to the results of a new study from China, “Increased Risk of Stroke in Patients With Fibromyalgia,” published in the journal Medicine.
Neuropsychiatric diseases may increase the risk for stroke, possibly via inflammation and atherosclerosis. From 25 percent to 40 percent of stroke patients, most of them young adults, are not associated with any conventional risk factors for stroke, so there is an urgent need to identify alternative stroke risk factors.
Fibromyagia is a neuropsychosomatic disorder characterized by several symptoms, including neuropsychiatric manifestations such as emotional distress and sleep disturbance. Researchers performed a population-based study to investigate whether fibromyalgia increases stroke risk using the Taiwan National Health Insurance (NHI) claims database and evaluating a cohort of more than one million people who were followed, together with healthy controls over three years, from Jan. 1, 2000, to Dec. 31, 2002.
A follow-up period was performed for selected patients and controls that continued to 2011. A total of 47,279 patients with fibromyalgia were analyzed, after which 189,112 age- and sex-matched healthy controls were randomly selected.
The authors observed that several co-morbidities, such as hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, coronary heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and interstitial cystitis, were more prevalent in patients with fibromyalgia and associated with a higher risk for stroke. The fibromyalgia group carried a 1.25-fold increased risk for stroke when compared to the control, non-fibromyalgia group.
Also, even in the absence of co-morbidities, researchers detected a higher risk for stroke in patients with fibromyalgia when compared to healthy controls. The risk was particularly relevant in younger patients, with fibromyalgia patients exhibiting a 2.26-fold relative risk when compared to non-fibromyalgia controls.
Age was identified as the most critical stroke risk factor, with increasing age correlated with expanding rates of stroke. But in younger patients, the relative risk for stroke remained high. These results suggest that fibromyalgia patients present a higher risk for stroke. Therefore, the authors emphasize that fibromyalgia patients should be closely monitored and potentially administered with measures for stroke prevention.