Sickle cell trait and incident ischemic stroke in the atherosclerosis risk in communities study

Melissa C. Caughey, Laura R. Loehr, Nigel S. Key, Vimal K. Derebail, Rebecca F. Gottesman, Abhijit V. Kshirsagar, Megan L. Grove, Gerardo Heiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE -: Numerous case reports describe stroke in individuals with sickle cell trait (SCT) in the absence of traditional risk factors for cerebrovascular disease. To date, no prospective epidemiological studies have investigated this association. METHODS -: A population-based sample of blacks (n=3497; mean age=54 years; female=62%) was followed from 1987 to 2011 in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, contributing a total of 65 371 person-years. Hazard ratios and incidence rate differences for ischemic stroke were estimated, contrasting SCT to homozygous hemoglobin A. Models were adjusted for age, sex, smoking, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, total cholesterol, atrial fibrillation, and coronary heart disease. RESULTS -: SCT was identified in 223 (6.4%) participants. During a median follow-up of 22 years, 401 subjects experienced incident stroke (89% ischemic). Incident ischemic stroke was more frequent among those with SCT (13%) than those with homozygous hemoglobin A (10%). SCT was associated with an ischemic stroke hazard ratio of 1.4 (1.0-2.0) and an incidence rate difference amounting to 1.9 (0.4-3.8) extra strokes per 1000 person-years. CONCLUSIONS -: We observed an increased risk of ischemic stroke in blacks with SCT. Further investigation of the incidence and pathophysiology of stroke in patients with SCT is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2863-2867
Number of pages5
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 12 2014


  • epidemiology
  • sickle cell trait
  • stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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