Secondary prevention: an issue for stroke patients

New research has shown that stroke patients are half as likely to have been prescribed preventative treatment that may reduce the risk of a repeat event, compared to patients with coronary artery disease.

Dr Emma Heeley, Senior Research Fellow at The George Institute for Global Health, says that stroke patients are missing out on vital treatment, and should talk to their doctor about avoiding a second stroke.

Patients who have had a stroke are at high risk of having another stroke or heart attack, this risk is the same if not sometimes higher than patients who have had a heart attack.

“Unfortunately, our study showed many stroke patients are at risk are missing out on this type of care. Both patients and practitioners are also underestimating patient risk,” she said.

Analysis of data collected by 532 general practitioner investigators on 1,453 patients aged 55 years and older, with a history of cardiovascular disease from the Australian Hypertension and Absolute Risk Study (AusHEART), found that the 743 patients with coronary artery disease were twice as likely to have been prescribed secondary prevention therapies, compared with 533 patients with stroke.

The study, published in the International Journal of Stroke, examined the management and risk perceptions of cardiovascular events in people with established cardiovascular disease in Australia.

“There is extensive evidence of the effectiveness of measures that may minimise the risk of further attacks in patients with cardiovascular disease, however, Australian stroke patients and their clinicians are less likely to take up or prescribe these therapies. This appears to be related to different perceptions of the risk of future cardiovascular events in both patients and doctors,” Dr Heeley added.