However, for the risk of ischemic stroke, vitamin E was actually mildly protective, reducing the risk of ischemic stroke 10 percent, the researchers found.
Schurks said the absolute risk of having a hemorrhagic stroke linked to vitamin E is small -- one additional hemorrhagic stroke for every 1,250 people taking the supplement.
Vitamin E may prevent one ischemic stroke in 476 people taking the supplement, the researchers added.
The researchers stressed that other ways of reducing the risk of strokes -- such as lowering blood pressure, taking cholesterol-lowering drugs and living a healthy lifestyle -- have much more impact on preventing ischemic stroke than vitamin E.
Dr. Larry B. Goldstein, director of the Duke University Stroke Center, said that "in addition to the studies included in this analysis, a large randomized trial of a combination of antioxidant vitamins, including vitamin E, in patients with vascular disease or diabetes found no effect on vascular events, including stroke, despite a significant increase in blood levels of the vitamins."
There's also some data suggesting that antioxidant vitamins might interfere with the effects of statin medications used to lower cholesterol levels in patients with vascular disease, he said.
"As there is no evidence of benefit and at least the possibility of harm, these vitamin supplements should generally be avoided, or at least their use should be discussed with a physician if being taken for a specific medical condition," Goldstein said.
For more information on stroke, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Markus Schurks, M.D., division of preventive medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston; Larry B. Goldstein, M.D., director, Duke University Stroke Center, Durham,
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