To analyze the frequency of inadequately treated risk factors in a large representative cohort of patients with acute ischemic stroke or TIA and to estimate the proportion of events potentially avertable by guideline-compliant preventive therapy compared to the status quo.
A total of 1,730 patients from the Poststroke Disease Management STROKE-CARD trial (NCT02156778) were recruited between 2014 and 2017. We focused on 8 risk conditions amenable to drug therapy and 3 lifestyle risk behaviors and assessed pre-event risk factor control in retrospect.
The proportion of patients with at least 1 inadequately treated risk condition was 79.5% (95% confidence interval [CI] 77.6%–81.4%) and increased to 95.1% (95% CI 94.1%–96.1%) upon consideration of the lifestyle risk behaviors. Risk factor control was worse in patients with recurrent vs first-ever events (p < 0.001), men vs women (p = 0.003), and patients ≤75 vs >75 years of age (p < 0.001). The estimated degree of stroke preventability ranged from 0.4% (95% CI 0.2%–0.6%) to 13.7% (95% CI 12.2%–15.2%) for the individual risk factors. Adequate control of the 5 most relevant risk factors combined (hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, atrial fibrillation, smoking, and overweight) would have averted 1 of 2 events or 1 in 4 with a highly conservative computation approach.
Our study confirms the existence of a considerable gap between risk factor control recommended by guidelines and real-world stroke prevention. Our study intends to increase awareness among physicians about stroke preventability and provides a quantitative basis for the emerging discussion on how to best tackle this challenge.