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Risk factors for stroke

Author : Pierre Allain Date : 2010-10-25

The knowledge of the risk factors for stroke is useful for the prevention and treatment of strokes.

The Interstroke study whose results were published in The Lancet of July 10 2010 was undertaken in 3000 cases of stroke and 3000 controls, from 22 countries. On the whole, 4 of 5 cases were ischemic and 1 case hemorrhagic but in the developed countries 9 of 10 cases were ischemic of which a quarter of cardio-embolic origin.

Risk factors for stroke are consistent with the data found in the literature: arterial hypertension, smoking, waist circumference, diabetes, absence of physical activity, low fish and fruit consumption. As it is known the relationships between stroke and blood lipids are complex, this study indicates the following points:

  • an high level of total cholesterol is unrelated to the risk of ischemic stroke but is associated with a decreased risk of hemorrhagic stroke; it is the same for LDL cholesterol
  • a high level of HDL cholesterol is associated with a decreased risk of ischemic stroke and with an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke

Concerning alcohol, low consumption is associated with a decreased risk of stroke and a high consumption with an increased risk.

On the pharmacological level, it is necessary to reduce hypertension; concerning dyslipemia, several studies showed the benefits of statins but they could increase the effects of warfarin used for a cardio-embolic risk.

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