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Theme I: Preventing stroke
Many strokes can be prevented if the risk factors and warning signs are recognized and treated early.
Stroke is unique among the brain’s many possible afflictions in a number of ways. By and large we cannot prevent Parkinson’s disease or premature Alzheimer’s disease but we know a number of risk factors for stroke, and we know that the chances of suffering a stroke are significantly reduced if these risk factors are controlled. These risk factors prominently include high blood pressure, heart disease such as atrial fibrillation, high cholesterol levels, smoking, sedentary life style, and TIAs (Transient Ischemic Attacks) – small warning events that often precede a stroke. There are a number of other risk factors specific for females (menopause, mitral valve prolapse, migraine + birth control).
One of the system’s major failures is that the known risk factors are not adequately controlled. It is, for instance, estimated that only 22% of hypertension is adequately controlled. Why is that? The answer is complex, including lack of knowledge by the patient, lack of adequate medical care, and lack of follow up. In Theme I, CSN scientists are investigating several aspects of this problem.