Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Brain & Nervous System Health Center

Font Size

Brain Injury May Raise Stroke Risk

Study of more than 1 million people found link but not cause and effect

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Barbara Bronson Gray

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, June 26 (HealthDay News) -- People who have a traumatic brain injury may be more likely to suffer a stroke, a large new study suggests.

And while the chances of having a stroke are still small, incurring a traumatic brain injury (TBI) may be as big a risk factor as is high blood pressure, said study author Dr. James Burke.

While stroke risk is usually tied to older adults, about 20 percent occur in those under 65, said Burke, a research fellow in the neurology department at the University of Michigan Medical School. "Stroke is not typically associated with young people, and why younger people have strokes is not well understood."

But when younger adults do suffer a stroke, the effects can be daunting.

Dr. John Volpi, co-director of the Eddy Scurlock Stroke Center in Houston, recalled a patient who had a minor bike accident and seemed just fine. But after just a few days, the man -- who was only 45 -- had a stroke. "It was a slow recovery, getting back to walking and talking, and because he was an ophthalmologist, it took him a long time to be able to go back to work," Volpi said.

While study author Burke said stroke prevention has come a long way in the last 20 years or so, acute stroke treatment has seen only one significant advance, the administration of a powerful blood clot destroyer called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA).

Intravenous tPA is used in the first hours after a stroke to help break up blood clots associated with ischemic stroke, in which blood flow to part of the brain is blocked. Ischemic stroke accounts for about 87 percent of all cases, according to the American Heart Association.

"The next place to hit a potential home run [in preventing stroke] is to find other risk factors that could be playing a key role, especially in younger people," Burke said.

It is unclear how a traumatic brain injury might raise a person's stroke risk, he added. "TBI patients may have more headaches, more fear of seizures, diet changes, genuine brain rewiring, or they may be affected by the stress of TBI, or atherosclerotic plaques may be activated."

Today on WebMD

nerve damage
Learn how this disease affects the nervous system.
senior woman with lost expression
Know the early warning signs.
woman in art gallery
Tips to stay smart, sharp, and focused.
medical marijuana plant
What is it used for?
senior man
boy hits soccer ball with head
red and white swirl
marijuana plant
brain illustration stroke
nerve damage
Alzheimers Overview
Graphic of number filled head and dna double helix