Prescribed Drug Use and Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage Incidence: A Drug-Wide Association Study

Jos P. Kanning*, Shahab Abtahi, Christian Schnier, Olaf H. Klungel, Mirjam I. Geerlings, Ynte M. Ruigrok

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Current benefits of invasive intracranial aneurysm treatment to prevent aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) rarely outweigh treatment risks. Most intracranial aneurysms thus remain untreated. Commonly prescribed drugs reducing aSAH incidence may provide leads for drug repurposing. We performed a drug-wide association study (DWAS) to systematically investigate the association between commonly prescribed drugs and aSAH incidence. METHODS: We defined all aSAH cases between 2000 and 2020 using International Classification of Diseases codes from the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage databank. Each case was matched with 9 controls based on age, sex, and year of database entry. We investigated commonly prescribed drugs (>2% in study population) and defined 3 exposure windows relative to the most recent prescription before index date (i.e., occurrence of aSAH): current (within 3 months), recent (3-12 months), and past (>12 months). A logistic regression model was fitted to compare drug use across these exposure windows vs never use, controlling for age, sex, known aSAH risk factors, and health care utilization. The family-wise error rate was kept at p < 0.05 through Bonferroni correction. RESULTS: We investigated exposure to 205 commonly prescribed drugs between 4,879 aSAH cases (mean age 61.4, 61.2% women) and 43,911 matched controls. We found similar trends for lisinopril and amlodipine, with a decreased aSAH risk for current use (lisinopril odds ratio [OR] 0.63, 95% CI 0.44-0.90, amlodipine OR 0.82, 95% CI 0.65-1.04) and an increased aSAH risk for recent use (lisinopril OR 1.30, 95% CI 0.61-2.78, amlodipine OR 1.61, 95% CI 1.04-2.48). A decreased aSAH risk in current use was also found for simvastatin (OR 0.78, 95% CI 0.64-0.96), metformin (OR 0.58, 95% CI 0.43-0.78), and tamsulosin (OR 0.55, 95% CI 0.32-0.93). By contrast, an increased aSAH risk was found for current use of warfarin (OR 1.35, 95% CI 1.02-1.79), venlafaxine (OR 1.67, 95% CI 1.01-2.75), prochlorperazine (OR 2.15, 95% CI 1.45-3.18), and co-codamol (OR 1.31, 95% CI 1.10-1.56). DISCUSSION: We identified several drugs associated with aSAH, of which 5 drugs (lisinopril and possibly amlodipine, simvastatin, metformin, and tamsulosin) showed a decreased aSAH risk. Future research should build on these signals to further assess the effectiveness of these drugs in reducing aSAH incidence. CLASSIFICATION OF EVIDENCE: This study provides Class III evidence that some commonly prescribed drugs are associated with subsequent development of aSAH.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2024


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