Can high iron levels cause a stroke?
A stroke is a life-threatening event that can be caused by various factors. Researchers have now discovered that people with higher levels of iron in the body are at higher risk of having a certain type of stroke.
Scientists at Imperial College London recently found that high levels of iron increase the risk of cardioembolic stroke. The physicians published the results of their study in the English-language journal “Stroke”.
What are cardioembolic strokes?
The study analyzed the genetic data of more than 48,000 people. The experts found that higher iron levels were associated with an increased risk of cardioembolic stroke. These strokes are typically caused by blood clots that migrate from the heart to the brain and block the blood and oxygen supply. Cardioembolic strokes are often associated with atrial fibrillation, which causes an irregular heart rate.
More research is needed on the subject
However, people should not immediately reduce their iron intake, as further research is needed, the scientists say. It used to be believed that higher iron levels could protect against strokes. However, other studies have shown that iron can lead to clot formation in some cases. Iron is basically a vital nutrient that is essential for a number of biological processes in the body, including the transport of oxygen.
Single nucleotide polymorphism can increase or decrease iron status
Using genetic data from public databases, the physicians examined more than 48,000 volunteers to find out the effects of genetics on iron status. They focused particularly on three points in the genome where a single single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) can easily increase or decrease a person’s iron status.
Higher iron status associated with risk of cardioembolic stroke
When the researchers looked for these same SNPs in data sets, including the data sets of 60,000 stroke patients, they found that those with SNPs for higher iron status had an increased risk of cardioembolic stroke.