-Dr. Kathy Johnson, PhD, CMC
“New research finds that one out of 12 people who have a stroke will likely soon have another stroke, and one out of four will likely die within one year.” This study published in the February issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, focuses on the findings that highlight the vital need for better secondary stroke prevention.
The study consisted of 10,399 people in South Carolina with the average age of 69 who had a stroke in 2002. Of the 10,399 people studied 23 percent were younger than 65 years old at the time of the initial stroke Eighteen percent went on to have a recurrent stroke within four years. The study also included the number of heart attacks or deaths within this time period. The study found 25 percent of people who had a stroke died within one year and eight percent of people had another stroke within one year. The risk for both events rose steadily after one year.
The cumulative risk at the end of four years, for example, was:
- 18.1 percent for recurrent stroke,
- 6.2 percent for heart attack,
- 41.3 percent for death by any cause,
- 26.7 percent for vascular death and
- 52.5 percent for combined events, any recurrent stroke, heart attack or death, whichever occurred first.”
“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,” said author Wuwei (Wayne) Feng, MD, MS, with the Department of Neuroscience at the Medical University of South Carolina.
“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.”
When race was taken into consideration the risk of recurrent stroke, heart attack or death was higher for African-Americans compared to Caucasians and also increased with age and a number of other disorders in addition to stroke itself. “Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and South Carolina had the second highest stroke death rate in the nation in 2003.”
Helpful Information from the American Heart Association: Know the Signs of a Stroke
Stroke is a medical emergency. Know these warning signs of stroke and teach them to others. Every second counts:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
If you or someone with you has one or more of these signs, don’t delay! Immediately call 9-1-1 or the emergency medical services (EMS) number so an ambulance (ideally with advanced life support) can be sent for you.
Also, check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared. It’s very important to take immediate action. If given within three hours of the start of symptoms, a clot-busting drug called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) can reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke. tPA is the only FDA-approved medication for the treatment of stroke within three hours of stroke symptom onset.
A TIA or transient ischemic attack is a “warning stroke” or “mini-stroke” that produces stroke-like symptoms but no lasting damage. Recognizing and treating TIAs can reduce your risk of a major stroke. The usual TIA symptoms are the same as those of stroke, only temporary. The short duration of these symptoms and lack of permanent brain injury is the main difference between TIA and stroke.