shows risk for recurrent stroke understood,
yet gap exists in prevention efforts
Recurrent Stroke Remains Serious Health Threat Despite
Available Lifestyle Changes, Therapies
Although stroke is the third leading cause of death and a
leading cause of debilitation in the United States, a
significant gap exists among Americans between general
understanding of stroke and stroke prevention efforts.
According to a new survey issued today by The National
Council on the Aging (NCOA), Americans understand that those
who have had a stroke are at greater risk for a future one,
yet stroke survivors are not taking all the possible steps
to protect their health.
88% of those surveyed recognized that a person who has a
stroke is at greater risk to have another one, statistics
show that one-third of all strokes are recurrent, even
though there are lifestyle changes and medications available
today that can help reduce risk. Additionally, 66% of
respondents said they knew someone who had suffered a
stroke, but many of those who survived were not exercising
regularly (32%), refraining from smoking (19%) or watching
their diet (18%) -- simple steps proven to help prevent a
"Those who have already had a stroke can make changes to
their everyday routines to lower their risk for a second
stroke or a heart attack," said Mark Alberts, MD, professor
of neurology, Northwestern University Medical School,
Chicago, Illinois. "It is particularly important that stroke
survivors and their families or caregivers work closely with
their physician to develop an individualized treatment plan,
which will often include medication."
addition to basic lifestyle changes, risk of recurrent
stroke can be reduced by using appropriate medicines. For
instance, many patients may benefit from antiplatelet
therapy that prevents blood platelets from sticking together
and clotting, thus helping to reduce stroke risk.
Research shows that after surviving a stroke, men have a 42%
chance of having another one within five years, and women
have a 24% chance during the same time period. Suffering an
initial stroke also puts people at increased risk for having
a heart attack, a leading cause of death that affects over
one million Americans each year. Similarly, having a heart
attack also increases the risk of having a first or
Confusion about Stroke Risk Factors, Symptoms
survey results show that many Americans incorrectly
identified excessive stress (87%), overexertion while
exercising (56%), dehydration (38%), asthma attacks (24%)
and wearing constrictive clothing (16%) as risk factors for
stroke. Respondents also mistakenly selected shortness of
breath (53%) and heart palpitations (50%) as stroke
symptoms. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed failed to
recognize the age range (age 65+) most affected by stroke.
Older Americans At Greatest Risk for Stroke Show Little
two-thirds of all strokes occur in people over 65, only one
in eight (12%) of those surveyed in this age group indicated
they were most concerned about experiencing a stroke, given
the choice of other serious conditions such as Alzheimer's
disease and diabetes that result in fewer fatalities.
Additionally, 75% of seniors surveyed said they have never
talked to their doctor about stroke risk.
"For older Americans, stroke poses a significant health
risk, so it is alarming to us that so few seniors have
discussed their personal risk for stroke with their doctor,"
said James P. Firman, president and CEO of NCOA. "Better
education is clearly needed to help all Americans understand
their risk of stroke to protect their health."
Tip Sheet Available
help educate the public during National Stroke Awareness
Month, the NCOA has developed a "Stroke Survival" tip sheet
that provides essential information for reducing stroke risk
and making a home "stroke prepared. " Easy-to-follow
pointers, such as "Keep a phone on a low table" and "Provide
a neighbor with a list of emergency numbers," are included.
The information can be accessed at www.ncoa.org.
Stroke affects more than 700,000 people each year --
approximately one person every 45 seconds. Annually, strokes
lead to an estimated 168,000 fatalities. Strokes result from
a sudden interruption of blood flow to any part of the
brain, which in turn injures or kills brain tissue. This
damage impairs normal function in the parts of the body
controlled by the affected brain area. Stroke can lead to
severe impairments, including debilitation from paralysis,
short-term memory loss and even speech and vision problems
that may result in the need for long-term care. The sooner a
stroke patient receives treatment, the more likely that
long-term damage can be prevented.
survey was conducted by the NCOA though an unrestricted
educational grant from Sanofi-Synthelabo and Bristol-Myers
Squibb. The telephone survey was conducted from April 24
through April 28, by ICR/International Communications
Research of Media, PA. For results based on the total
qualified sample (n=992) there is 95% confidence that the
error attributed to sampling and other random effects is +/-
3.1 percentage points. The n=450 respondents aged 55 and
older were deliberately oversampled.