Background: Persistent pathogens have been proposed as risk factors for stroke; however, the evidence remains inconclusive. Mexican Americans have an increased risk of stroke especially at younger ages, as well as a higher prevalence of infections caused by several persistent pathogens.
Methodology/principal: Findings Using data from the Sacramento Area Latino Study on Aging (n = 1621), the authors used discrete-time regression to examine associations between stroke risk and (1) immunoglobulin G antibody levels to Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), Cytomegalovirus, Varicella Zoster Virus, Toxoplasma gondii and Herpes simplex virus 1, and (2) concurrent exposure to several pathogens (pathogen burden), defined as: (a) summed sero-positivity, (b) number of pathogens eliciting high antibody levels, and (c) average antibody level. Models were adjusted for socio-demographics and stroke risk factors. Antibody levels to H. pylori predicted incident stroke in fully adjusted models (Odds Ratio: 1.58; 95% Confidence Interval: 1.09, 2.28). No significant associations were found between stroke risk and antibody levels to the other four pathogens. No associations were found for pathogen burden and incident stroke in fully adjusted models.
Conclusions/significance: Our results suggest that exposure to H. pylori may be a stroke risk factor in Mexican Americans and may contribute to ethnic differences in stroke risk given the increased prevalence of exposure to H. pylori in this population. Future studies are needed to confirm this association.