A new study has found an inexpensive and non invasive technique to assess the risk of stroke in high blood pressure patients.
According to the latest study documented in the journal Hypertension, photographing the retina helps in detecting the risk of stroke in those who suffer from high blood pressure.
“The retina provides information on the status of blood vessels in the brain,” Mohammad Kamran Ikram, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study and assistant professor at the Singapore Eye Research Institute, said in a news release. “Retinal imaging is a non-invasive and cheap way of examining the blood vessels of the retina.”
This study emphasizes that eyes may be a window to the person’s risk for stroke that is the fourth leading cause of disability and death in the U.S.
This study followed 2,907 patients and tracked the occurrence of stroke on an average 13 years. These patients had high blood pressure but never experienced strokes. The researchers took photographs of their retinas at the beginning of the study.
Damage to the retina was attributed to hypertension known as hypertensive retinopathy that was seen on the photographs and was scored as none, mild or severe.
In a follow up, nearly 146 patients suffered a stroke that was caused by a blood clot and 15 people had strokes due to bleeding in the brain.
The researchers noticed that those who had a mild hypersensitive retinopathy had a 35 percent higher risk of stroke and those with moderate or severe hypersensitive retinopathy had 137 percent higher risk of stroke.
Even in those who took medication and had blood pressure under control, there was a 96 percent higher risk of blood clots in those with mild hypersensitive retinopathy and in those with moderate and hypersensitive retinopathy the risk was 198 percent higher.
Ikram concluded. “It is too early to recommend changes in clinical practice. 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.”
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