(HealthDay News) – Elevated leukocyte counts are associated with a higher incidence of cerebral infarction and a lower incidence of intracerebral hemorrhage, according to a study published online Feb. 3 in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

Elisabet Zia, MD, from Lund University in Malmö, Sweden, and colleagues analyzed data on leukocyte count and subtype and stroke incidence and mortality from a prospective cohort of 26,927 stroke-free subjects (mean age at screening, 58 years). Screening was performed from 1991–1996, and participants were followed for a mean of 13.6 years.

During follow-up, 1,515 subjects experienced a first-ever stroke (1,314 cerebral infarction and 201 intracerebral hemorrhage). The researchers found that total leukocyte counts and neutrophil counts correlated significantly with increased incidence of cerebral infarction (hazard ratio [HR], 1.4), after adjusting for various risk factors. In contrast, elevated total leukocyte count was inversely associated with incident intracerebral hemorrhage (HR, 0.7). There was no association between leukocyte count and mortality.

“The results suggest that the relationships with inflammation for ischemic stroke and intracerebral hemorrhage are different,” Zia and colleagues conclude.

One author is an employee of Astra Zeneca.

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