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Stroke Prevention - Recommendations by the American Stroke Association to lower the Risk of having a Stroke

May 5th, 2006


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Preventative treatments to avoid a stroke have been recommended by the American Stroke Association.  The report of guideline recommendations were published in the rapid access issue of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

"Stroke remains a major public health problem. Its human and economic toll is staggering," said Larry B. Goldstein, M.D. who is lead author of the report and chair of the association's Stroke Council. 

Strokes cause severe disabilities, and death each year.  It is the third leading cause of death in the United States.  The report states that there are approximately 700,000 people that will suffer from a stroke in the United States this next year.  Of these stroke victims, 158,000 will die.  Stroke victims are often faced with severe disabilities.  In 2006, there will be approximately $57.9 billion spent on direct and indirect cost of people having a stroke in the United States.


"Stroke can be prevented and we are learning more about ways of accomplishing that," said Goldstein, professor of medicine (neurology) and director of the Duke Center for Cerebrovascular Disease at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.

Some stroke risks cannot be changed.  You may have a genetic predisposition to having strokes.  Older people, men, African Americans, and people with a family record of strokes are at a higher risk compared to other groups.

The report mentions that there is a possible connection between low-birth weight babies who may have a higher risk for stroke when they become an adult.  Other research studies have shown babies that weighed less than 5.5 pounds at birth had twice the risk of having a stroke as an adult compared to babies that weighed in at 8 pounds.


"We are facing potential cutbacks in maternal health and nutrition programs. In addition to their public health benefits, it makes sense to invest in programs aimed at improving the health of women during pregnancy," Goldstein said. "Dividends may pay off decades later by potentially reducing the chances of stroke and all the health costs that go with it later in life."

The American Stroke Association recommends how you can reduce your risk of developing a stroke.  These are habits that people can attain to improve their health and reduce their risk of having a stroke.

The most common recommendations most people already know are still valuable tools for lowering your stroke risk.  Make sure to control high blood pressure, if you have high blood pressure make sure to talk with your doctor about treatment options.  You should have your doctor check your blood pressure at least once every two years.  If you are overweight it is recommended that you lose weight to improve your blood pressure readings.


You should not smoke.  If you smoke you should quit smoking.  Stay away from secondhand smoke.  Exercising regularly and keeping active for at least 30 minutes each day. 

Make sure to check in with your doctor for a checkup to make sure that you do not have any disorders that can raise you stroke risk such as, atrial fibrillation (a type of irregular heartbeat), carotid artery disease and heart failure.  Keep your cholesterol levels in a healthy range.

The American Stroke Association wants physicians to try to use a risk assessment tool such as the Framingham Stroke Profile in order to identity high risk stroke patients.

"It is important to identify patients at high risk of stroke because research shows that many strokes can be prevented if those individuals modify their risk factors," Goldstein said.

Other ways to lower your stroke risk includes counseling for genetic related stroke disorders.  The report suggests that doctors treat patients who are high-risk diabetic to take prescription statin drugs.  If they are diabetic, the patient should try to maintain a lower blood pressure at all times.

If you increase your potassium intake and reduce salt intake you can help lower blood pressure with people with hypertension.  However be aware that too much potassium can be harmful, so you should check in with your doctor or registered dietician for dietary guidelines.  The Dietary Approach to Stopping Hypertension (DASH) diet is a researched diet that has been shown to lower blood pressure by combining potassium and calcium to act as natural diuretic.

Children that have sickle cell disease should have transcranial Doppler (TCD) ultrasound screening starting at the age of 2.  These children may need treatment and are at a high risk for stroke.  Adults with sickle cell disease should also be carefully watched as they are also at a high risk for strokes.

Other recommendations that will lower stroke risk, is to limit alcohol consumption and not use illegal drugs.  They do not recommend women to take oral contraceptives when smoking as this increases a risk for stroke as well.

The report suggests that people that suffer with sleep apnea that gets treated with a CPAP machine may lower the risk for stroke.  The studies have not been duplicated enough to say for sure.  If a person is overweight and snores, a doctor should make have the person complete a sleep study to rule out sleep apnea.

"We know that treating sleep apnea is associated with a reduction of blood pressure," Goldstein said. "And although we don't have direct evidence that treating sleep apnea will reduce stroke risk, the feeling is that it will. But that is not yet supported by randomized trials."

The report recommends that women who has not yet had a stroke and is at a higher risk for a stroke should be on a low-dose aspirin regimen.  They do not recommend it for men at this time, because there is not enough evidence to support the daily aspirin for lowering stroke risk.  However, if a man has a high cardiovascular risk there could be benefit for aspirin regimen for the primary prevention.  It would be best to consult with your doctor if an aspirin regimen would be right for you.

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Nicole Wilson
Best Syndication

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Important:  The material on Best Syndication is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. You should promptly seek professional medical care if you have any concern about your health, and you should always consult your physician before starting a fitness program.

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                   Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:49 PM