Background and Purpose—Some rheumatic diseases are associated with stroke. Less is known about associations with stroke subtypes or stroke risk by age. We quantified the association between stroke, its subtypes, and rheumatic diseases and identified when stroke risk is greatest. Methods—Searches of EMBASE (from 1980) and MEDLINE (from inception) to end 2014 and manual search of reference lists for studies of stroke and stroke subtypes in rheumatic diseases as well as studies measuring cerebrovascular disease from magnetic resonance imaging. Results—Prior published meta-analyses and new pooled analyses of any stroke in rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, ankylosing spondylitis, gout, and psoriasis show an excess risk of stroke over the general population with odds ratio (OR) ranging from 1.51 (95% confidence interval: 1.39–1.62) to 2.13 (1.53–2.98). New meta-analyses of stroke subtypes in rheumatoid arthritis [ischemic: OR, 1.64 (1.32–2.05); hemorrhagic: OR, 1.68 (1.11–2.53)] and systemic lupus erythematosus [ischemic: OR, 2.11 (1.66–2.67); hemorrhagic: OR, 1.82 (1.07–3.09)] show an excess risk of stroke over the general population. Stroke risk across rheumatic diseases is highest in those aged <50 years [OR, 1.79 (1.46–2.20)] and reduces relatively with ageing [>65 years: OR, 1.14 (0.94–1.38); difference P<0.007]. Inflammatory arthropathies conveyed higher stroke risk than noninflammatory diseases (OR, 1.3, 1.2–1.3). It was not possible to adjust ORs for risk factors or treatments. Conclusions—Risk of any stroke is higher in most rheumatic diseases than in the general population, particularly <50 years. Rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus increase ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke risk by 60% to 100% relative to the general population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)943-950
Early online date25 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


  • arthritis
  • atrophy
  • inflammation
  • rheumatology
  • stroke

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