BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Intracranial atherosclerosis (ICAS) is a predictable and preventable condition, but existing evidence concerning its risk factors has not been quantitatively assessed. The aim of this meta-analysis is to identify the non-modifiable and modifiable risk factors for ICAS.
METHODS: PubMed and EMBASE were searched (1995-May 15, 2018) for cross-sectional and longitudinal studies exploring risk factors for ICAS. The risk estimates and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) in multivariate analysis were aggregated using random-effect models.
RESULTS: Thirty-four studies comprising 59,736 subjects met the inclusion criteria for the systematic review involving thirty-one risk or protective factors. Seven factors were associated with ICAS, as suggested by the meta-analysis, including advanced age (odds ratio (OR) 1.05, 95% CI 1.03-1.08), metabolic syndrome (OR 2.13, 95% CI 1.35-3.37), diabetes mellitus (OR 1.98, 95% CI 1.69-2.31), hypertension (OR 1.97, 95% CI 1.69-2.31), dyslipidemia (OR 1.29, 95% CI 1.04-1.59), high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (OR 1.06, 95% CI 1.00-1.12) and high levels of apolipoprotein A1 (OR 0.34, 95% CI 0.15-0.75). The subgroup analysis for study populations indicated advanced age, metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus and hypertension as an elevated risk of ICAS among community subjects and stroke patients; according to the subgroup analysis for ethnicity, similar associations remained in Asians, but only metabolic syndrome and diabetes mellitus were correlated with ICAS in Caucasians.
CONCLUSIONS: Individuals with advanced age, metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus, hypertension and dyslipidemia might have a higher risk of ICAS, whereas high levels of apolipoprotein A1 might protect against ICAS.
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