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Cerebrovasc Dis. 2011;32(5):497-503. doi: 10.1159/000332031. Epub 2011 Nov 1.

Polymyalgia rheumatica and the risk of stroke: a three-year follow-up study.

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Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, School of Medicine, College of Medicine, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan.



Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is a relatively common rheumatic disease, particularly in the elderly. Vasculitis is associated with PMR and theoretically makes such patients susceptible to vascular events such as stroke. This study aims to explore the frequency and risk of stroke among patients with PMR through a population-based case-controlled study.


The study included 781 patients with PMR from the Taiwan Longitudinal Health Insurance Database between 2001 and 2005. We randomly extracted 3,905 other patients, matched with the study group in terms of sex and age, as a control population. Each subject was individually tracked for a three-year period to identify those who had strokes. Stratified Cox proportional hazard regression was employed to evaluate the risk of stroke, after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics and comorbidities.


We found that 386 out of 4,686 sampled patients (8.24%) had stroke during the three-year follow-up period, including 113 patients with PMR (14.47% of the PMR group) and 273 controls (6.98% of the control group). The stratified Cox proportional hazard regression showed that the adjusted hazard ratio of stroke for patients with PMR was 2.09 times that of controls (95% CI = 1.63-2.66, p <0.001), after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics and comorbidities.


PMR was associated with a significantly higher risk of stroke in the three-year follow-up period. Physicians should be aware of this potential association in clinical settings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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