, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 321-327

Prevention of strokes

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Stroke is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Risk factors for stroke have been determined through prospective epidemiologic study. Control of risk factors has been demonstrated to reduce stroke incidence, either through controlled trials or inferred from observational studies. In the past few years, new approaches to the treatment of established risk factors have been discovered. These include aggressive control of hypertension in diabetes patients, prevention of type 2 diabetes through lifestyle modification, carotid endarterectomy for moderate symptomatic carotid stenosis, encouragement of a high level of physical activity, and control of abdominal obesity and elevated body mass index. In addition, new strategies for stroke prevention have been identified, including encouragement of a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and omega-3 fatty acids, the use of vitamins B12, B6, and folic acid in hyperhomocysteinemia, and moderate alcohol consumption. Clinical trial data support the use of hydroxymethyl-coenzyme A inhibitors in patients with coronary artery disease, and ramipril in high-risk patients with coronary artery disease and diabetes, for the primary prevention of stroke. New risk factors for stroke are being investigated, including the role of chronic inflammation and infection, and these may provide future strategies for stroke prevention.