Hepatitis C virus infection and increased risk of cerebrovascular disease

Mei-Hsuan Lee, Hwai-I Yang, Chih-Hao Wang, Chin-Lan Jen, Shiou-Hwei Yeh, Chun-Jen Liu, San-Lin You, Wei J Chen, Chien-Jen Chen
Stroke; a Journal of Cerebral Circulation 2010, 41 (12): 2894-900

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The association between hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and cerebrovascular disease remains controversial. This study aimed to assess the risk of lethal cerebrovascular diseases associated with chronic HCV infection.

METHODS: In this community-based prospective cohort study, 23 665 residents (aged 30 to 65 years) were enrolled in 1991 to 1992. They were personally interviewed using structured questionnaires and provided blood samples for various serological and biochemical tests at study entry. Serum HCV RNA level and HCV genotype were tested for participants seropositive for antibodies against HCV (anti-HCV). Deaths from cerebrovascular disease during follow-up were ascertained by computerized linkage with National Death Certification profiles from 1991 to 2008 (International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision 430 to 438). Multivariate-adjusted hazard ratio with 95% CI was estimated for each risk predictor.

RESULTS: There were 255 cerebrovascular deaths during 382 011 person-years of follow-up. The cumulative risk of cerebrovascular deaths was 1.0% and 2.7% for seronegatives and seropositives of anti-HCV, respectively (P<0.001). The hazard ratio (95% CI) of cerebrovascular death was 2.18 (1.50 to 3.16) for anti-HCV seropositives after adjustment for several conventional risk factors of cerebrovascular disease. Compared with participants seronegative for anti-HCV as the referent, the multivariate-adjusted hazard ratio (95% CI) was 1.40 (0.62 to 3.16), 2.36 (1.42 to 3.93), and 2.82 (1.25 to 6.37), respectively, for anti-HCV-seropositive participants with undetectable, low, and high serum levels of HCV RNA (P<0.001 for trend). However, no significant association was observed between HCV genotype and cerebrovascular death.

CONCLUSIONS: Chronic HCV infection is an independent risk predictor of cerebrovascular deaths showing a biological gradient of cerebrovascular mortality with increasing serum HCV RNA level.

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