Taking medications containing caffeine was tied to a doubled or even tripled risk of having stroke that might seem to contradict recent evidence suggesting coffee and tea exert protective effects. The results may in fact be in line with the research, according to the study authors, pointed out that people who drank the least coffee were most at risk when taking caffeinated drugs.
The products included mostly over the counter cold medicines, pain relievers, and alertness aids containing small amounts of caffeine. It is a vasoconstrictor, causing blood vessels to tighten and increasing the pressure of the blood flow. That effect on blood pressure could explain the possible link to strokes.
The researchers selected 940 adult patients who had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, in which the blood vessel in the brain bursts and bleeds heavily. Then they compared those patients to a group of similar people who had been hospitalized but not suffered a stroke, and to a third group who had neither been hospitalized nor suffered a stroke. The team interviewed all the participants about all medications they had taken in the preceding two weeks.
They found that overall; those who had taken a medication containing caffeine were about two and a half times more likely to suffer a stroke. But when the researchers factored in coffee consumption, the participants who took medications containing caffeine but didn’t drink coffee on a daily basis were closer to three times more likely to have strokes than people not taking the medications while those who drank plenty of coffee daily did not seem to be at any risk.
Even though caffeine-containing medicines appear to increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke, it doesn’t appear to be the ‘caffeine’ dose. Since the risk of stroke didn’t go up in parallel to caffeine consumption, there was no “dose response relationship” and it’s unlikely that caffeine causes strokes.
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