Approximately one in 15 patients starting dialysis have had an ischemic stroke, according to researchers.

Carmen Sánchez-Perales, MD, and colleagues at the Complejo Hospitalario de Jaén in Jaén, Spain, studied 449 dialysis patients who had mean age of 64.4 years. Of these, 30 (6.7%) had a previous stroke at the start of dialysis, the investigators reported in Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation (published online ahead of print).

During a follow-up of nearly 39 months, 34 patients presented with one or more strokes, an incidence of 2.41 per 100 patient-years. The presence of diabetes or atrial fibrillation independently predicted the occurrence of stroke. These conditions were significantly associated with a 2.3 and 3.1 times increased risk of stroke.

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The researchers concluded that the prevalence of ischemic stroke at the start of dialysis is high and its incidence is elevated during follow-up. In addition, atrial fibrillation is an important predictor of ischemic stroke “and as such, the clinical implication is that prophylactic anti-coagulation therapy needs to be considered for these individuals.”