Daily News: Disease

U.S. agencies release new guidelines for preventing stroke

Xinhua News Agency - CEIS

12-03-10

U.S. agencies release new guidelines for preventing stroke

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key for preventing stroke, according to new guidelines released Thursday by two U.S. medical associations.

The risk for first-time stroke could be cut by 80 percent if people maintain a healthy life style, the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association said.

The two medical groups updated the stroke-prevention guidelines for the first time since 2006.

A healthy lifestyle, which includes not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising and eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, has the biggest impact on preventing stroke, said Dr. Larry B. Goldstein, director of the Duke Stroke Center in Durham, North Carolina and lead guideline author.

"There is nothing we are going to do in medicine to beat that," he said.

Keeping cholesterol and blood pressure low are also important for reducing stroke risk, Goldstein added.

The guidelines address the whole stroke spectrum: ischemic stroke, which involves a blocked blood vessel in the brain; non- ischemic (hemorrhagic) stroke, in which a ruptured vessel bleeds in the brain; and transient ischemic attack (TIA), a temporary stroke that can be an indicator of risk for a more serious stroke.

Prevention of each type of stroke is basically the same, Goldstein stated. "People need to take charge of their own lives," he said. "The best way to treat a stroke is never to have one."

Other prevention-related information included in the guidelines:

-- As more Americans use hospital emergency departments for primary health care, doctors are in a position to identify those at high risk for stroke, make referrals and begin preventive therapy;

-- Genetic screening for stroke may be appropriate for some at- risk patients, but not for the general public.

-- Treating patients with a blocked neck artery (carotid artery) with a stent or surgery (endarterectomy) should be decided on a case- by-case basis;

-- Screening for narrowing of the neck arteries is not recommended; and

-- Aspirin is advised only for people at high risk of stroke for whom the reduction in stroke risk outweighs the bleeding risk of aspirin.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease and cancer, and a major cause of disability.

Although death from stroke have decreased, more strokes are occurring -- 795,000 a year, 77 percent of them first-time, according to figures published on Thursday by HealthDay News.

The report said the rise in stroke was mainly due to population aging and obesity increases.

(c) 2010 Xinhua News Agency - CEIS. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.

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