, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 463-474
Date: 29 Jun 2011

Treatment of Risk Factors to Prevent Stroke


Much of the decline in stroke incidence and mortality for the past several decades in Western countries has been attributed to better treatment of risk factors. Many epidemiological studies and clinical trials confirmed the importance of managing hypertension. Comparative trials of anti-hypertensive drugs or drug classes have not yielded clear results, but blood pressure variability may play an important role beyond the absolute value of blood pressure. Diabetes therapy remains a conundrum. Although diabetes is clearly a risk factor for ischemic stroke, treatment trials targeting different glycemic goals have not indicated that glucose lowering results in stroke prevention. Trials focused on insulin resistance are ongoing and they may be able to help establish the management of diabetes/impaired glucose tolerance. Evidence for treatment of dyslipidemia has contrasted science to diabetes mellitus. Dyslipidemia has not been strongly or consistently linked to ischemic stroke but the Stroke Prevention by Aggressive Reduction in Cholesterol Levels (SPARCL) trial showed the impact of statin treatment in stroke prevention. The results of clinical trials investigating dabigatran and rivaroxaban clearly indicate alternative strategies to vitamin K antagonists in stroke prevention for persons with atrial fibrillation. Evidence for stroke prevention by life style modification, treating metabolic syndrome, sleep disordered breathing, lipoprotein (a), hyperhomocysteinemia, and coagulation disorders are also discussed.