Lower risk of subarachnoid haemorrhage in diabetes: a nationwide population-based cohort study

Background and purpose

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a common metabolic disorder with increased risk of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular complications. However, its relationship with risk of subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH), the most devastating form of stroke, remains controversial.


To evaluate the relationship between DM and risk of SAH, we performed a retrospective cohort study using a nationwide, population-based, health screening database in Korea. We included participants without history of stroke who underwent a nationwide health screening programme between 2003 and 2004. Primary outcome was occurrence of SAH. Participants were followed up until development of SAH or December 2015. Multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression analysis was performed with adjustments for age, sex, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, body mass index, physical activity, smoking status, alcohol habit, household income and treatment with antihypertensive agents and statins.


Among 421 768 study participants, prevalence of DM was 9.6%. During a mean follow-up period of 11.6±1.9 years, 1039 patients developed SAH. Presence of DM was significantly associated with decreased risk of SAH (adjusted HR 0.68; 95% CI 0.53 to 0.86; p<0.001). Elevated level of fasting blood glucose was also negatively associated with risk of SAH (adjusted HR per 1 mmol/L increase 0.90; 95% CI 0.86 to 0.95; p<0.001).


DM and elevated level of fasting blood glucose were inversely associated with risk of SAH. Further studies may elucidate the possibly protective, pathophysiological role played by hyperglycaemia in patients at risk of SAH.

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