Heart Health

23 August 2006

Two strokes and you're out?

A new study found that having a second stroke after surviving the first one more than doubles a person's risk of dying in the next two years.

Having a stroke is bad enough. But having another one after surviving the first one is especially bad, more than doubling a person's risk of dying in the next two years, a new study finds.

Those who live through a stroke should get special attention from their physicians and other health professionals to reduce their risk of having another one.

Lisabeth, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the U-M School of Public Health, performed the study with her colleagues from the U-M Medical School, who have led a study of stroke in the south-eastern coastal area of Texas near the city of Corpus Christi for several years.

The study followed 1 345 people who had their first strokes between 2000 and 2004, and determined the frequency of recurrence through the end of 2004 and recorded details about their demographics, other health problems, and whether or not they had had another stroke.

They then compared these recurrent stroke patients with the other stroke survivors who had not had a second stroke; in all the study includes data from 124 recurrent stroke patients and 417 deaths among 1,311 stroke survivors for whom complete data was available.

When the researchers looked at the risk of dying from any cause during the study period, the impact of having a second stroke was dramatic. Stroke survivors who suffered a second stroke were 2.67 times more likely to die than stroke survivors who did not have a second stroke in the study period.

Lisabeth and her colleagues suggest that people of any background who have survived a stroke or "mini stroke" (also called a transient ischemic attack or TIA) should talk with their doctors often about what steps to take to reduce the risk of another stroke. Quitting smoking, keeping cholesterol and blood pressure levels down, controlling blood sugar for people with diabetes, and having a healthy diet and exercise routine can all help.

The authors also call for better awareness of stroke prevention methods and stroke symptoms among all at-risk individuals, to help prevent a first stroke or speed the recognition of a stroke when it occurs. Stroke symptoms include; the sudden onset of weakness or numbness on one side of the body, difficulty speaking or understanding, sudden clumsiness or unexplained falls and sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes. –(EurekAlert! August 2006)

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