Older people with late-stage, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) appear to be at increased risk of brain hemorrhage (bleeding stroke), but not stroke caused by brain infarction (blood clot), according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2011.
Late AMD (stage 4) was associated with a 56 percent increased risk of any type of stroke. Late AMD, both the dry and the wet form, was strongly associated with more than six times the risk of brain hemorrhage, but not with brain infarction. Early AMD (stages 1-3) did not increase the risk of any stroke. Associations were adjusted for possible confounders, such as diabetes, blood pressure, anti-hypertensive medications, smoking status, body mass index, alcohol use and C-reactive protein levels.
Because the number of brain hemorrhages observed in the study was small, the findings will need to be corroborated in a larger group, Renske Wieberdink, MD, said.
“These findings should be considered preliminary,” she said. “Patients and physicians must be very careful not to over-interpret them. We don’t know why there are more brain hemorrhages in these patients or what the relationship with AMD might be. This does not mean that all patients with late-stage AMD will develop brain hemorrhage.”