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Retinal photography may reveal clues to stroke risk

 
 
 
 
 
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Scientists have pinpointed that photographing the retina can provide information which help predicting the potential for stroke in people with high blood pressure.

According to a new study conducted at the National University of Singapore, the eye examination mainly retinal imaging explores symptoms on the status of blood vessels in the brain.

While high blood pressure is the most important risk factor for stroke, the experts are not able to predict which high blood pressure patients are threatened by the higher risk of stroke.

Researchers studied some 2,907 patients with high blood pressure who had not previously experienced a stroke.

They monitored stroke occurrence among the participated group basically by taking retina photographs for nearly 13 years.

The damage to the retinal blood vessels illustrated on the photographs attributed to hypertension or hypertensive retinopathy which was scored as none, mild, moderate and severe.

During the study period, some 146 participants experienced a stroke caused by a blood clot and 15 by bleeding in the brain due to common stroke risk factors such as age, sex, race, cholesterol levels, blood sugar, body mass index, smoking and blood pressure readings.

Their retinal imaging indicated that risk of stroke was 35 percent higher in those with mild hypertensive retinopathy and 137 percent higher in those with moderate or severe hypertensive retinopathy.

The study also unveiled that “even in patients who achieved good blood pressure control, the risk of a blood clot was 96 percent higher in those with mild hypertensive retinopathy and 198 percent higher in those with moderate or severe hypertensive retinopathy.”

“Retinal imaging is a non-invasive and cheap way of examining the blood vessels of the retina,” said Mohammad Kamran Ikram, M.D., Ph.D., and assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Memory Aging & Cognition Centre, at the National University of Singapore.

“It is too early to recommend changes in clinical practice and other studies need to confirm our findings and examine whether retinal imaging can be useful in providing additional information about stroke risk in people with high blood pressure,” Ikram emphasized.

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