Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Iron deficiency may increase stroke risk through sticky blood

Date:
February 19, 2014
Source:
Imperial College London
Summary:
Iron deficiency may increase stroke risk by making the blood more sticky, scientists have discovered. Every year, 15 million people worldwide suffer a stroke. Nearly six million die and another five million are left permanently disabled. The most common type, ischaemic stroke, occurs because the blood supply to the brain is interrupted by small clots. In the last few years, several studies have shown that iron deficiency, which affects around two billion people worldwide, may be a risk factor for ischaemic stroke in adults and in children.

Blood cells (stock illustration). Iron deficiency can increase the stickiness of blood cells called platelets, which initiate clotting.
Credit: abhijith3747 / Fotolia

Scientists at Imperial College London have discovered that iron deficiency may increase stroke risk by making the blood more sticky. The findings, published in the journal PLOS ONE, could ultimately help with stroke prevention.

Related Articles


Every year, 15 million people worldwide suffer a stroke. Nearly six million die and another five million are left permanently disabled. The most common type, ischaemic stroke, occurs because the blood supply to the brain is interrupted by small clots.

In the last few years, several studies have shown that iron deficiency, which affects around two billion people worldwide, may be a risk factor for ischaemic stroke in adults and in children. How iron deficiency could raise stroke risk has been a puzzle for researchers.

The Imperial team found that iron deficiency increases the stickiness of small blood cells called platelets, which initiate blood clotting when they stick together. Although a link between iron deficiency and sticky platelets was first discovered almost 40 years ago, its role has been overlooked until now.

The researchers studied a group of patients with a rare disease called hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) that often leads to enlarged blood vessels in the lungs, similar to varicose veins. Normally, the lungs' blood vessels act as a filter to remove small clots before blood goes into arteries. In patients with abnormal lung vessels, blood is able to bypass the filter, so small blood clots can travel to the brain.

The patients in the study who were short of iron were more likely to have a stroke. In addition, the researchers looked at platelets in the lab and found that when they treated these with a substance that triggers clotting, platelets from people with low iron levels clumped together more quickly.

Dr Claire Shovlin, from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London, said: "Since platelets in the blood stick together more if you are short of iron, we think this may explain why being short of iron can lead to strokes, though much more research will be needed to prove this link.

"The next step is to test whether we can reduce high-risk patients' chances of having a stroke by treating their iron deficiency. We will be able to look at whether their platelets become less sticky. There are many additional steps from a clot blocking a blood vessel to the final stroke developing, so it is still unclear just how important sticky platelets are to the overall process. We would certainly encourage more studies to investigate this link."

The researchers studied data on 497 patients with abnormal blood vessels in the lung, known as pulmonary arteriovenous malformations, who were treated at a specialist HHT clinic at Hammersmith Hospital. The study found that even moderately low iron levels, around 6 micromoles per litre, approximately doubled the risk of stroke compared with levels in the middle of the normal range of 7-27 micromoles per litre.

Besides this group of patients, many other people have conditions that can allow blood clots to bypass the filter in the lungs. One in four people have a hole in the heart called a patent foramen ovale. Holes in the heart also allow blood to bypass the lung filter from time to time, though not as often as for the lung patients.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Imperial College London. The original article was written by Sam Wong. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Claire L. Shovlin, Basel Chamali, Vatshalan Santhirapala, John A. Livesey, Gillian Angus, Richard Manning, Michael A. Laffan, John Meek, Hannah C. Tighe, James E. Jackson. Ischaemic Strokes in Patients with Pulmonary Arteriovenous Malformations and Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia: Associations with Iron Deficiency and Platelets. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (2): e88812 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0088812

Cite This Page:

Imperial College London. "Iron deficiency may increase stroke risk through sticky blood." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140219173252.htm>.
Imperial College London. (2014, February 19). Iron deficiency may increase stroke risk through sticky blood. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140219173252.htm
Imperial College London. "Iron deficiency may increase stroke risk through sticky blood." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140219173252.htm (accessed February 26, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sleeping Too Much Or Too Little Might Increase Stroke Risk

Sleeping Too Much Or Too Little Might Increase Stroke Risk

Newsy (Feb. 26, 2015) People who sleep more than eight hours per night are 45 percent more likely to have a stroke, according to a University of Cambridge study. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
London Show Dissects History of Forensic Science

London Show Dissects History of Forensic Science

AFP (Feb. 25, 2015) Forensic science, which has fascinated generations with its unravelling of gruesome crime mysteries, is being put under the microscope in an exhibition of real criminal investigations in London. Duration: 00:53 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Michigan Couple Celebrates Identical Triplets

Michigan Couple Celebrates Identical Triplets

AP (Feb. 25, 2015) A suburban Detroit couple who have two older children are adjusting to life after becoming parents to identical triplets _ a multiple birth a doctor calls rare. (Feb. 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mayor Says District of Columbia to Go Ahead With Pot Legalization

Mayor Says District of Columbia to Go Ahead With Pot Legalization

Reuters - News Video Online (Feb. 25, 2015) Washington&apos;s mayor says the District of Columbia will move forward with marijuana legalization, despite pushback from Congress. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins