Patients with 'bleeding' strokes less likely to get prevention treatment

WASHINGTON, May 10 Patients with a hemorrhagic ("bleeding") stroke are significantly less likely to receive medications and counseling to prevent recurrent strokes compared to patients with an ischemic (clot-caused) stroke, researchers reported at the American Heart Association's 8th Scientific Forum on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke.

These findings are the result of a three-year study conducted by members of the American Heart Association's Get With The Guidelines Steering Committee and investigators. The project involved 662 hospitals with entries for 149,089 ischemic strokes or transient ischemic attacks (a "mini-stroke"), 17,195 intracerebral hemorrhages (ICH) and 5,503 subarachnoid hemorrhages (SAH).

An intracerebral hemorrhage occurs when a defective artery in the brain bursts, flooding the surrounding tissue with blood. A subarachnoid hemorrhage occurs when a blood vessel on the brain's surface ruptures and bleeds into the space between the brain and the skull (but not into the brain itself). Bleeding strokes have a much higher fatality rate than strokes caused by clots.

Get With The GuidelinesStroke is an American Heart Association quality improvement program in which hospitals establish teams to ensure that stroke patients are treated and discharged appropriately according to guideline-based performance measures.

The researchers looked for the proportion of patients who received cholesterol-reducing medications, diabetes medications and weight-reduction management and smoking cessation therapy at discharge. High cholesterol, diabetes, overweight/obesity and cigarette smoking are risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Smoking, in particular, is a known risk factor for both bleeding strokes and ischemic strokes.

They found that 77 percent of ischemic stroke patients received cholesterol-lowering medications at discharge, compared with 67 percent of ICH patients and 62 percent

Contact: Karen Astle
American Heart Association

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