Strategies for reducing stroke risk

A RECENT analysis of data pooled from Australia and New Zealand found a significantly increased risk of stroke in deprived areas. This disparity could be reduced by effective preventive strategies.1

Advice on primary prevention can be found in Therapeutic Guidelines: Neurology. The strategy is to modify the major risk factors for stroke.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an important risk factor, as non-valvular AF is the most common cardiac cause of ischaemic stroke. Everyone over the age of 65 years with this arrhythmia should be considered for anticoagulation with warfarin.

Treatment with warfarin reduces the relative risk of stroke in patients with AF by approximately 70%. 

However, regular monitoring is required and there is a risk of major bleeding. Low-dose aspirin is an alternative for patients who cannot take warfarin, but it is less effective.

Haemorrhagic and ischaemic strokes are associated with high blood