Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the USA and a major cause of mortality worldwide. One out of four strokes is recurrent. Secondary stroke prevention starts with deciphering the most likely stroke mechanism. In general, one of the main goals in stroke reduction is to control vascular risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia, and smoking cessation. Changes in lifestyle like a healthy diet and aerobic exercise are also recommended strategies. In the case of cardioembolism due to atrial fibrillation, mechanical valves, or cardiac thrombus, anticoagulation is the mainstay of therapy. The role of anticoagulation is less evident in the case of bioprosthetic valves, patent foramen ovale, and dilated cardiomyopathy with low ejection fraction. Strokes due to larger artery atherosclerosis account for approximately a third of all strokes. In the case of symptomatic extracranial carotid stenosis, surgical intervention as close as possible in time to the index event seems highly beneficial. In the case of intracranial large artery atherosclerosis, the best medical therapy consists of antiplatelets, high-dose statins, aggressive controls of vascular risk factors, and lifestyle modifications, with no role for intracranial arterial stenting or angioplasty. For patients with small artery occlusion (ie, lacunar stroke), the therapy is similar to that used in patients with intracranial large artery atherosclerosis. Despite the constant new evidence on how to best treat patients who have suffered a stroke, the risk of stroke recurrence remains unacceptably high, thus evidencing the need for novel therapies.
- Stroke mechanisms
- Stroke risk
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Pharmacology (medical)