Risk of Stroke in Patients With Heart Failure: A Population-Based 30-Year Cohort Study

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Background and Purpose—

The long-term risk of specific stroke subtypes among heart failure patients is largely unknown. We examined short-term and long-term risk of ischemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH), and subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) in heart failure patients and in a general population comparison cohort.


In this nationwide cohort study (1980−2012), we used Danish population-based medical registries to identify and follow (1) all patients hospitalized for the first time with heart failure and (2) a birth year–, sex-, and calendar year–matched general population comparison cohort. Age-, sex-, and comorbidity-adjusted stroke rate ratios were computed based on Cox regression analysis.


We included 289 353 patients with heart failure and 1 446 765 individuals from the general population in the analysis. One- and 5-year risks among heart failure patients were 1.4% and 3.9% for ischemic stroke, 0.2% and 0.5% for ICH, and 0.03% and 0.07% for SAH. The 30-day adjusted stroke rate ratio was increased markedly for ischemic stroke (5.08; 95% confidence interval, 4.58–5.63] and was also elevated for ICH (2.13; 95% confidence interval, 1.53–2.97) and SAH (3.52; 95% confidence interval, 1.54–8.08). Between 31 days and 30 years, risk of all stroke subtypes remained positively associated with heart failure (1.5- to 2.1-fold for ischemic stroke, 1.4- to 1.8-fold for ICH, and 1.1- to 1.7-fold for SAH) in comparison with the general population cohort.


Heart failure was associated with increased short-term and long-term risk of all stroke subtypes, suggesting that heart failure is a potent and persistent risk factor for ischemic stroke, ICH, and SAH.

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