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Retinal Vein Occlusion Linked to Cardiovascular Mortality

Presence of condition in middle age may be associated with a doubled risk of death

TUESDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- Patients who have retinal vein occlusion at ages 43 to 69 may have more than twice the risk of dying from heart disease as patients who don't, according to study findings published in the March issue of Ophthalmology.

Sudha Cugati, M.S., of the University of Sydney in Australia, and colleagues pooled data from two population-based cohort studies: the 1988-1990 Beaver Dam Eye Study of 4,926 subjects aged 43 to 86; and the 1992-1994 Blue Mountains Eye Study of 3,654 subjects aged 49 to 97. At baseline, 96 (1.14 percent) of the subjects had retinal vein occlusion.

Over the next 12 years, the researchers found that subjects with retinal vein occlusion had higher rates of age-standardized mortality from cardiovascular-related conditions (26 percent versus 17.1 percent in those without retinal vein occlusion), and cerebrovascular-related conditions (5.3 percent versus 4.5 percent in those without retinal vein occlusion). Their analysis showed that the baseline presence of retinal vein occlusion in subjects under age 70, but not those over 70, was associated with higher cardiovascular mortality (hazard ratio, 2.5).

"Our study suggests that some patients with retinal vein occlusion may benefit from a careful cardiovascular risk assessment," the authors conclude. "However, we should emphasize that our study was not designed to address this question directly. Independent confirmation of the cardiovascular associations found in our study in larger case series is useful to determine whether routine cardiovascular risk assessments should be performed for patients with retinal vein occlusion."

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