Iron Deficiency May Raise Stroke Risk
Investigators looked at data from nearly 500 people with a rare hereditary disease that causes them to have enlarged blood vessels in the lungs. Typically, blood vessels in the lungs don’t allow clots to enter the arteries. But in these patients, clots can escape the lungs, travel to the brain and cause a stroke.
Those who had an iron deficiency had stickier platelets — which are small blood cells that trigger clotting when they stick together — and were more likely to suffer a stroke, according to the researchers at Imperial College London in the U.K.
Even those with moderately low iron levels were about twice as likely to suffer a stroke as those with iron levels in the middle of the normal range, according to the study published Feb. 19 in the journal PLoS One.
The researchers noted that many people have other types of conditions that let blood clots bypass the lung’s filtering system, and they added that their findings could eventually help with stroke prevention.
Iron deficiency affects about 2 billion people worldwide, and recent research has shown that it may be a risk factor for stroke, but how iron deficiency could boost stroke risk was unknown.