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Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) is a disease of abnormal vasculature where patients are predisposed to strokes of multiple etiologies. We assessed yearly stroke incidence among Albertans with HHT and compared with the general population. Given the tendency for stroke in HHT patients, we expected HHT patients to have higher stroke incidence, in particular at younger ages.
Population-based administrative health data on inpatient and ambulatory admissions were extracted over a 16-year period using International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-9 and ICD-10, Canada codes. We analyzed overall occurrence of strokes in Alberta by age, gender, stroke subtype, and diagnosis of HHT.
The age-standardized incidence rate of stroke in HHT was 450 per 100,000 compared with 260 per 100,000 in the general population with a rate ratio of 1.73 (95% confidence interval (CI) [1.046-2.842]). This study found a higher HHT prevalence in Alberta (1 in 3800) compared to the world average of 1 in 5000. Women were also more likely to be diagnosed with HHT, with a 3.25:1 female gender preponderance in the yearly incidence.
This study not only shows that HHT patients are at higher risk of having a stroke but also quantifies that risk using an age-adjusted metric in Alberta. This province has a higher than expected disease burden of HHT, with the majority of cases affecting women. Our study found that acute ischemic strokes and transient ischemic attacks are far more common than hemorrhage in HHT. As HHT is a rare, multi-system, chronic disease, these patients should be referred to an HHT Centre of Excellence.
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