Purpose: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease causing blindness in the elderly. It shares many common possible pathogenic mechanisms with cardiovascular diseases. Many studies have discussed the association between AMD and stroke, but the results were inconsistent. Our aim was to determine the associations between neovascular AMD and the risk of stroke in the Taiwanese population. Methods: This is a retrospective cohort study. We used claims data from National Health Insurance Research Database. Patients aged more than 45 years without stroke, myocardial infarction, or any AMD were selected from 2001 to 2008 and followed until 2010. The index date was defined as the date of nAMD diagnosis (ICD-9 code, 362.52). The comparison group was patients without an nAMD diagnosis with age- and sex-matched to nAMD subjects at a ratio of up to 10 to 1. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis and Cox regression analysis were used. The incidence of stroke events (ICD-9 codes, 430-434) and their subtypes (hemorrhagic and ischemic) were primary outcomes. Secondary outcomes included acute myocardial infarction (AMI), composite AMI/stroke, and all-cause mortality. Results: Patients with nAMD had a higher risk of developing stroke, with an adjusted HR of 1.30 (95% CI, 1.01-1.68). A higher risk for hemorrhagic stroke (HR, 1.70, 95% CI, 1.03-2.83) was also found. No significant differences were observed in ischemic stroke, the composite of AMI/stroke, and all-cause mortality. Conclusions: Patients with nAMD had a significantly higher risk of developing stroke, which was driven mainly by the increased risk of developing the hemorrhagic subtype.
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