Updated Guidelines for the Prevention of Stroke Issued

Risks categorized according to modifiability and strength of evidence

FRIDAY, Dec. 3 (HealthDay News) -- The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association has released new guidelines for the primary prevention of strokes. The guidelines have been published online Dec. 2 in Stroke.

Larry B. Goldstein, M.D., of Duke University in Durham, N.C., and colleagues on the writing committee, updated the guidelines, which were last issued in 2006, based on clinical reports, personal files, expert opinions, and published studies.

The recommendations provide schemes for assessing a person's risk of a first stroke. Risk factors or markers are classified as nonmodifiable, modifiable, or potentially modifiable and categorized according to strength of evidence. Hypertension, exposure to cigarette smoke, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, and certain other cardiac conditions are among the well-known, modifiable risk factors, the authors note. They also lay out less well-documented or potentially modifiable risk factors, such as the metabolic syndrome, excessive alcohol consumption, and use of oral contraceptives. Data on the use of aspirin as a means of preventing a first stroke are also reviewed.

"Extensive evidence identifies a variety of specific factors that increase the risk of a first stroke and that provide strategies for reducing that risk," the authors write.

Several writing committee members disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical and/or medical device companies.

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