In a new study, researchers found that women who suffer from a disabling neurological disorder known as idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) are at twice the risk of heart conditions and stroke.
The research was led by a team from the University of Birmingham.
IIH is a debilitating condition in which the pressure around the brain is severely raised, causing disabling chronic headaches.
It can also compress the optic nerve, causing permanent vision loss in 25% of those affected.
The condition is most common in women with obesity in their twenties and thirties.
In the new study, the team compared patient records of 2,760 women with IIH with a healthy group of 27,125 women who do not have IIH.
The women in the two groups were of a similar weight and age, with an average age of 32.
The team found that women with IIH were twice as likely to be at risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart failure and stroke, as women of the same weight and age without IIH.
The finding suggests that IIH is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Broadening the care for IIH patients to include assessing and modifying heart disease risk may help reduce long-term complications from heart disease.
IIH patients are typically identified at a young age. This may provide the opportunity for early detection of heart disease risk factors.
The team hopes they will see a further test of this important finding to determine if a change to healthcare policy with early intervention in patients with IIH will improve their long-term health outcomes.
One author of the study is Professor Sinclair, of the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research.
The study is published in JAMA Neurology.
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