WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. New research out of Wake Forest University School of Medicine identifies the presence of cardiovascular risk factors as an indicator of how likely it is that elderly, hospitalized patients who receive intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) treatment will have a stroke or heart attack.
An advance copy of the study appears online this week in the Journal of Neurology, the official publication of the European Neurological Society. It is scheduled to appear in a future print issue.
Prior to this study, physicians knew that administering intravenous immunoglobulin, or IVIg, could cause stroke or heart attack, but it was unclear when those serious side effects occurred.
"Stroke or heart attack has always been considered a fairly rare complication, but it's a catastrophic one," said James B. Caress, M.D., an associate professor of neurology and the study's lead researcher. Before this study, it was difficult for doctors to counsel patients about their risk for stroke or heart attack from IVIg treatment because previous reports could not identify which patients were at the highest risk, he added.
IVIg used in patients with autoimmune disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, and with immunodeficiencies is a drug made from human blood components. In patients who have an autoimmune disease, in which the body forms antibodies that attack its own tissues, IVIg can suppress the detrimental effects of those antibodies. In patients with advanced cancer, where the immune system is damaged from the tumor or chemotherapy, the drug boosts the immune system to stave off infections.
For the study, researchers looked at the medical records of 19 patients who had a stroke or heart attack after receiving IVIg. They also reviewed the records of 38 patients who were the same ages as those 19 patients, but who received IVIg treatment and did not have a stroke or heart attack. The patients, who had an average age of 71
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Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center