BACKGROUND: Anti-inflammatory therapies reduce recurrent vascular events in coronary disease. Existing studies have reported highly conflicting findings for the association of blood inflammatory markers with vascular recurrence after stroke leading to uncertainty about the potential of anti-inflammatory therapies after stroke and no consensus about the utility of measurement of inflammatory markers in current guidelines. METHODS: We investigated the association between hsCRP (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein), IL-6 (interluekin-6), and recurrent major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE), and stroke from individual participant data from 8420 patients with ischemic stroke/transient ischemic attack from 10 prospective studies. We did within-study multivariable regression analyses and then combined adjusted risk ratio (RR) by random-effects meta-analysis. RESULTS: During 18 920 person-years of follow-up, 1407 (16.7% [95% CI, 15.9-17.5]) patients had MACE and 1191 (14.1% [95% CI, 13.4-14.9]) patients had recurrent stroke. On bivariate analysis, baseline IL-6 was associated with MACE (RR, 1.26 [95% CI, 1.10-1.43]) and recurrent stroke (RR, 1.18 [95% CI, 1.05-1.32]), per unit increase logeIL-6. Similar associations were observed for hsCRP (MACE RR, 1.19 [95% CI, 1.09-1.29]; recurrent stroke RR, 1.12 [95% CI, 1.04-1.21], per unit increase logehsCRP). After adjustment for vascular risk factors and treatment, independent associations remained with MACE (IL-6, RR, 1.12 [95% CI, 1.04-1.21]; hsCRP, RR, 1.09 [95% CI, 1.04-1.15]) and recurrent stroke (IL-6, RR, 1.09 [95% CI, 1.00-1.19]; hsCRP, RR, 1.05 [95% CI, 1.00-1.11]). Comparing the top with the bottom quarters (Q4 versus Q1), IL-6 (RR, 1.35 [95% CI, 1.09-1.67]) and hsCRP (RR, 1.31 [95% CI, 1.07-1.61]) were associated with MACE after adjustment. Similar results were observed for recurrent stroke for IL-6 (RR, 1.33 [95% CI, 1.08-1.65]) but not hsCRP (RR, 1.16 [95% CI, 0.93-1.43]). CONCLUSIONS: Blood markers of inflammation were independently associated with vascular recurrence after stroke, strengthening the rationale for randomized trials of anti-inflammatory therapies for secondary prevention after ischemic stroke/TIA.
coronary artery disease, infarction, inflammation, ischemic stroke, thrombosis