The risk of ischemic stroke increased by 3 percent for every year a person had type 2 diabetes, the researchers found.
Someone who's had diabetes less than five years has a 70 percent increased risk of ischemic stroke, while someone who's had diabetes for five to 10 years has an 80 percent increased risk compared to someone without diabetes. A duration of diabetes longer than 10 years was linked to more than a threefold increase in the risk of ischemic stroke, according to the study.
The study authors suggest several reasons why people with type 2 diabetes could have an increased risk of stroke. One is that people with diabetes may have more plaque build-up in their arteries, particularly the carotid artery that supplies blood to the brain. Another reason is that high blood pressure, a known risk factor for stroke, is more prevalent in people with diabetes.
However, while the study uncovered an association between type 2 diabetes and stroke, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
Elkind said that the study wasn't able to discern whether better blood sugar control would reduce the risk of stroke. Nor did the study look at whether blood pressure and cholesterol management made a difference in the risk of stroke, though Elkind said he suspects they would make a difference.
"Controlling cholesterol and high blood pressure are very important," he said.
Commenting on the study, Dr. Vivian Fonseca, president of medicine and science at the American Diabetes Association, said, "If you have diabetes, you do have an increased risk of stroke, and the risk goes up as the diabetes duration increases."
Fonseca said this study emphasizes the importance of good blood pressure and cholesterol control for people with diabetes. And, while more evidence is needed on good blood sugar control and the risk of stroke, keeping your blood sugar in check can help improve your health in other ways.
Elkind added that
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