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Preventing Recurrent Strokes Needs Improvement

1 out of 12 People Who Have a Stroke Will Have Another

By Jennifer Warner
WebMD Health News

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

Feb. 15, 2010 -- One in 12 people who have a stroke will likely soon have another one, and one in four will likely die within one year, according to a new study.

Researchers say the results suggest that more attention needs to be paid to prevention of recurrent strokes. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

The study, published in Neurology, was based on 10,399 people in South Carolina who had a hospital discharge diagnosis of stroke in 2002. The results showed that nearly 25% of people who had a stroke died within one year from any cause and 8% had another stroke within a year.

These risks rose steadily one year after the initial stroke. By the end of four years after a stroke, the risk of another stroke was 18% and the risk of death was 41%.

"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," researcher Wuwei (Wayne) Feng, MD, MS, with the department of neuroscience at the Medical University of South Carolina, says in a news release. "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."

In comparison, the risk of having a heart attack within four years after a stroke was 6%. Overall, the risk of a repeat stroke, heart attack, or death within four years after a stroke was 53%.

The study showed the risk of heart attack, repeat stroke, or death was higher among African-Americans than among whites. The risk of a another stroke also increased with age and the number of other underlying health disorders.

SOURCES: Feng, W. Neurology, Feb. 16, 2010; vol 74: pp 588-593.

News release, American Academy of Neurology.

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