Is TBI A Risk Factor For A Stroke?

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Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs because of sudden damage to the brain. The American Association of Neurological Surgery explains that TBI “is a disruption in the normal functioning of the brain that can be caused by a blow, bump or jolt to the head, the head suddenly and violently hitting an object or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue.” When the brain suffers a trauma, it has the propensity to affect all areas of one’s functioning. The specific symptoms that develop because of a TBI will vary significantly, as they depend on the type of injury, the severity of the injury, as well as the area of the brain that was injured. When the brain suffers a moderate to severe trauma it is impossible for anyone, including medical professionals, to initially understand the entirety of the damages sustained, nor will the long-term effects be immediately apparent. 

Stroke

The Mayo Clinic explains “a stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients.” There are a variety of contributing factors that can increase one’s risk for stroke. The Centre for Neuro Skills (CNS) provide a list of major risk factors, some of which include the following: 

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking 
  • High blood pressure
  • Personal or family history of stroke
  • Brain aneurysms
  • Obesity
  • Unhealthy cholesterol levels
  • Certain medical conditions (e.g., sickle cell anemia, vasculitis, bleeding disorders, etc.)

According to the Journal of Neurology, “TBI is a potential unrecognized stroke risk factor as trauma to the head and neck may increase stroke risk through vascular dissection, microvascular injury or abnormal coagulation.” Studies have linked TBI with a long-term risk of neurological diseases (e.g., Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, dementia, etc.), and it has recently been suggested that TBI is also a risk factor for stroke. Two studies referred to in The Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that TBI was a risk factor for stroke independent of conventional vascular risk factors. 

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