Objective

To determine using a population-based study whether midlife stroke patients having a primary care physician (PCP) at the time of first stroke have a lower risk of stroke recurrence and mortality than those who do not have a PCP.

Methods

First-ever ischemic stroke patients 45 to 64 years of age at stroke onset were ascertained through the Brain Attack Surveillance in Corpus Christi (BASIC) project from 2000 to 2013 in Texas. Cox proportional hazards models were used to examine the association between not having a PCP and stroke recurrence or all-cause mortality in separate models. Cases were followed up for up to 5 years or until December 31, 2013, whichever came first. Cases were censored for recurrence if they died before experiencing a recurrent event. We adjusted for clinical risk factors that could be associated with having a PCP and recurrence or mortality.

Results

There were 663 first-occurrence ischemic stroke cases. Of these, 77% had a PCP, 43% were female, and average age was 55.6 years. Five-year recurrence risk was 14.6%, and mortality risk was 19.2%. Not having a PCP was associated with higher recurrence risk (adjusted hazard ratio 1.75, 95% confidence interval 1.02–3.02). Having a PCP was not associated with mortality. Sensitivity analyses showed that results were robust to different ways to adjust for chronic conditions.

Conclusion

This study found lower rates of stroke recurrence among those with a PCP at the time of first stroke. Future studies could determine the value of establishing a PCP before stroke hospital discharge for secondary stroke prevention.

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