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More Attention Needed to Prevent Second Strokes


Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the United States. A new study published in the February 16 issue of Neurology suggest that even though 1 in 12 people who have a stroke will have another and 1 of 4 will very likely die within a year, we don’t pay enough attention to preventing the second stroke.

Wuwei (Wayne) Feng, MD, MS, and colleagues from the Department of Neuroscience at the Medical University of South Carolina used a state hospital discharge database to identified 10,399 people with an average age of 69 who had a stroke in 2002. Of the participants, 23% were younger than 65 years old at the time of the initial stroke. Nearly 25% of patients who had a stroke were found to have died within one year from any cause, and 8% had a second stroke within one year.

The researchers found the risk for both death or a second stroke rose steadily after one year with a cumulative risk at the end of four years of 18.1% for recurrent or second stroke, 6.2% for heart attack, 41.3% for death by any cause, and 52.5% for combined events, any recurrent stroke, heart attack or death, whichever occurred first.

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Feng, MD stated in a news release, “Furthermore, the risk of recurrent stroke was between three and six times higher than the risk of heart attack at different points during the study. Our findings suggest that South Carolina and possibly other parts of the United States may have a long way to go in preventing and reducing the risk factors for recurrent strokes.”

The risk of a recurrent stroke, heart attack or death was higher for African-Americans compared to Caucasians and also increased with age and number of other disorders in addition to stroke itself.

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Feng, W. Neurology, Feb. 16, 2010; Vol 74: pp 588-593.
News release, American Academy of Neurology.
National Stroke Association