Comparing anemic patients to non-anemic patients, the researchers found severe anemia increased the risk of dying 3.5 times while the patient was in the hospital and 2.5 times within a year.
Patients with moderate anemia had twice the risk of dying six months to a year after their stroke, compared to patients without anemia. For mild anemia, the risk was 1.5 times higher in that time frame.
People with anemia don't have enough healthy red blood cells. Symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath and rapid heartbeat.
Earlier research shows that anemia increases the risk of death after a heart attack, heart failure or kidney disease.
Beside anemia, the researchers took into account factors such as age, stroke severity, stroke risk factors, vital signs, lab results and the overall health of the patient before and after the stroke.
"This study demonstrates that stroke survivors with anemia have an increased risk of dying from the time they are admitted to the hospital, onward. Those with a stroke and anemia should be monitored closely throughout their first year after a stroke," Sico said.
Future research might include examining whether the risk of dying with anemia is different among men and women, and among blacks and whites, Sico said.
"Also, we would like to determine what type of anemia patients with stroke have," he added.
"Will giving a stroke patient with anemia a blood transfusion help prevent them from dying? We don't have a definitive answer for this question, but it is a question well worth examining," Sico said.
Dr. Ralph Sacco, chair of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, commented that other studies have shown the danger of anemia for stroke, but this is the first to show the risk associated with acute stroke, right at the time of hospitalization.
It is important to treat anemia in
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