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Autoantibody May Increase Risk of Stroke, Heart Attack

Last Updated: September 29, 2009.

Women with a particular autoimmune antibody have a much higher risk of having a stroke or heart attack, with an even higher risk if they take oral contraceptives or smoke, according to a study published online Sept. 28 in The Lancet Neurology.

TUESDAY, Sept. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Women with a particular autoimmune antibody have a much higher risk of having a stroke or heart attack, with an even higher risk if they take oral contraceptives or smoke, according to a study published online Sept. 28 in The Lancet Neurology.

Rolf T. Urbanus, Ph.D., from University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands, and colleagues examined the risk of arterial thrombosis associated with four types of antiphospholipid antibodies in 175 women with ischemic stroke, 203 women with myocardial infarction, and 628 matched healthy women.

The researchers found that antibodies against lupus anticoagulant were present in only 0.7 percent of healthy women compared with 17 percent of women with ischemic stroke (odds ratio, 43.1) and 3 percent of women with myocardial infarction (odds ratio, 5.3). The risk was further increased by oral contraceptive use (odds ratio for ischemic stroke, 201.0; odds ratio for myocardial infarction, 21.6) and smoking (odds ratio for ischemic stroke, 87.0; odds ratio for myocardial infarction, 33.7). Women with antibodies against β2-glycoprotein I had a higher risk of ischemic stroke (odds ratio 2.3).

"Urbanus and colleagues add further evidence for lupus anticoagulant and anti-β2-glycoprotein I as arterial thrombotic risk factors," write the authors of an accompanying editorial. "Most importantly, they elucidate that young women with antiphospholipid antibodies should be informed about the serious risks of cigarette smoking and use of oral contraceptives."

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