Seasonal variability in spontaneous cervical artery dissection

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Abstract

We examined the seasonal variability of spontaneous cervical artery dissection (sCAD) by analysing prospectively collected data from 352 patients with 380 sCAD (361 symptomatic sCAD; 305 carotid and 75 vertebral artery dissections) admitted to two university hospitals with a catchment area of 2 200 000 inhabitants between 1985 and 2004. Presenting symptoms and signs of the 380 sCAD were ischaemic stroke in 241 (63%), transient ischaemic attack in 40 (11%), retinal ischemia in seven (2%), and non-ischaemic in 73 (19%) cases; 19 (5%) were asymptomatic sCAD. A seasonal pattern, with higher frequency of sCAD in winter (31.3%; 95% confidence interval (CI): 26.5 to 36.4; p = 0.021) compared to spring (25.5%; 95% CI: 21.1 to 30.3), summer (23.5%; 95% CI: 19.3 to 28.3), and autumn (19.7%; 95% CI: 15.7 to 24.1) was observed. Although the cause of seasonality in sCAD is unclear, the winter peaks of infection, hypertension, and aortic dissection suggest common underlying mechanisms.

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