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High-Dose Corticosteroids May Increase Stroke Risk

Drug prescribed for asthma and other diseases increases atrial fibrillation risk

TUESDAY, May 9 (HealthDay News) -- Patients undergoing high-dose corticosteroid therapy are at increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation (AF), therefore increasing their risk of stroke, according to a study in the May 8 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Cornelis S. van der Hooft, M.D., of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues conducted a nested case-control study within the Rotterdam Study, a population-based cohort study of 7,983 older adults. Cases included cohort members with incident AF with their date of diagnosis taken as the index date. The controls were members of the cohort who had not had AF and were all alive and eligible on this index date. The corticosteroid exposure of the two groups was categorized into high-dose exposure (7.5 mg or more of prednisone equivalents a day) and low-intermediate-dose exposure (less than 7.5 mg).

During the study period there were 385 eligible cases of new-onset AF, and the risk was significantly higher among those who had received a corticosteroid prescription within one month of the index date versus those who had not. This increased risk was only associated with high-dose steroids.

"Because persons who develop AF are at increased risk of serious cardiovascular complications such as heart failure and ischemic stroke and have a chance to develop chronic AF, early detection of AF is essential," the authors conclude.

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