Urinary tract infections ‘TREBLE your risk of a stroke in the next 30 days’, finds study
- UTI is three times more likely to trigger ischemic stroke, the most common type
- Ischemic stroke occur when blood clot blocks flow of blood and oxygen to brain
- Researchers say UTI causes arteries to clog up and struggle to transport blood
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) may raise your chances of suffering a stroke, a study has warned.
Scientists found patients with UTIs are three times more likely to have an ischemic stroke within 30 days of catching the bug.
Ischemic strokes occur when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood and supply of oxygen to the brain, the NHS says. They are the most common type of stroke.
Urinary tract infections – which plagues millions of Britons – is three times more likely to trigger a stroke within 30 days of infection, researchers say
Several other infections were found to raise the risk of strokes including septicemia, abdominal, skin and respiratory bugs.
The researchers looked at all inpatient and emergency department visits to hospitals in New York state from 2006 to 2013.
They compared patient records to see if they had any infections in the four months prior to them suffering a stroke.
For all infections, the risk of the stroke was higher within 30 days of infection, the team of academics discovered.
Dr Mandip Dhamoon, senior study author, said: ‘Healthcare providers need to be aware that stroke can be triggered by infections.
‘Probing into the previous weeks or months of a patient’s life before the stroke can sometimes help to illuminate the possible causes of stroke if there was an infection during that time.
‘Our study shows that we need to do more to understand why and how infections are associated with the occurrence of different kinds of stroke, and that will help us to determine what we can do to prevent these types of strokes.
‘These findings suggest that there could be implications for vaccination, antibiotic regimens or intensive antithrombotic treatments not only to prevent the infections but to prevent stroke in those who are deemed high-risk.’
Connections were also examined with two other kinds of stroke – intracerebral haemorrhage, caused by ruptured blood vessels in the brain, and subarachnoid haemorrhage, an uncommon kind which results from bleeds on the brain’s inner lining.
For intracerebral, the strongest connection with occurrence was for UTI, septicaemia, and respiratory infections.
Respiratory was the only infection related to the subarachnoid haemorrhage.
UTIs occur when the urinary tract, which comprises the kidneys, bladder and the tubes that run between them, becomes overrun by bacteria.
Symptoms include the frequent urge to urinate, pain during urination and abdominal discomfort.
Women are up to 30 times more likely to suffer than men because their urethra – the tube through which urine leaves the body – is shorter than a man’s and closer to the back passage.
More than half of women will have at least one UTI in their lifetime, and a third of these suffer three or more episodes a year.
The findings were published in the Journal of The American Heart Association.
HOW CAN YOU PREVENT A STROKE?
The best way to help prevent a stroke is to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol.
These lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of problems like:
- arteries becoming clogged with fatty substances (atherosclerosis)
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol levels
An unhealthy diet can increase your chances of having a stroke because it may lead to an increase in your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
A low-fat, high-fibre diet is usually recommended, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (5 A Day) and wholegrains.
You should limit the amount of salt you eat to no more than 6g (0.2oz) a day as too much salt will increase your blood pressure: 6g of salt is about 1 teaspoonful.
For most people, at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week is recommended.
Smoking significantly increases your risk of having a stroke. This is because it narrows your arteries and makes your blood more likely to clot.
Cut back on alcohol
Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to high blood pressure and trigger an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation), both of which can increase your risk of having a stroke.
Heavy drinking multiplies the risk of stroke by more than 3 times