Can we predict the chance of a second stroke? Researchers think we can and these are the predictors

March 6, 2018

Strokes are scary. For many people, they come without warning. If you have had stroke or mini-stroke, it’s understandable that you’re afraid it will happen again. Because you might not know why you had the first one, you want to understand at least how to prevent another one. What can you do to decrease the risk? Predicting the first stroke is still not possible, but studies show that we can predict the chances that it will happen again. You can even do something to try and prevent it.

What are the risk factors?

Based on data from a previous study, researchers came up with the Essen Stroke Risk Score (ESRS). It is a list of risk factors that can help you determine your chance of having a second stroke. A score of 0 puts you at very low risk, a score of 6 or above means you are at high risk. This list was compiled about 10 years ago, and improvements are continually being made with new data from all over the world. This list has not been used for patients who have an irregular heartbeat.

The good news is, you can use this list to determine if you’re at risk for a second stroke. Even better, there are many things that you can change to reduce your risk which is exactly why we publish this for you. Take a look!

The list works quite simply. There is a point value for every category.  Add up the points from the categories that apply to you, and then you can calculate your risk.

  • Age between 65 and 75 years: 1 point
  • Age above 75 years: 2 points
  • High blood pressure (hypertension): 1 point
  • Diabetes: 1 point
  • Previous heart attack (myocardial infarction): 1 point
  • Other cardiovascular diseases (not including irregular heartbeat and heart attack): 1 point
  • Reduced blood flow to your limbs (peripheral arterial disease): 1 point
  • Smoker: 1 point
  • Previous mini-stroke or ischemic stroke in addition to qualifying event: 1 point

What does your score mean?

Now that you have your score, what does it mean? The higher your score, the higher your risk. But being aware of this allows you to change something. You can decrease your risk of a future stroke by lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, exercising, and managing your weight which combined can positively influence diabetes, high blood, and other diseases. No one is claiming that these changes are easy to make, but knowing what you can do is empowering. It’s the first part of the battle.

It is also important to understand that the higher your risk of recurrent stroke, the more important it is to talk to your doctor. Doing so can lead to a more optimized treatment program. Talk to your doctor about the best medical therapy for you and how to implement some positive changes.

The lead author of this study is Dr. Christian Weimar, Department of Neurology, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.

Editorial note:

Many Strokemark subscribers want to know what they can do to minimize their risk of another stroke. This article lists the most important risk factors.

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