Stroke: 4 risk factors often remain unrecognized

Updated: 06/30/2022 – 13:22

Two thirds of all cases
Researchers identify 4 unrecognized risk factors for stroke

Severe headaches are one of the main symptoms of stroke.  According to a current study, important risk factors are often not recognized in advance.

Photo: Getty Images / Justlight

Severe headaches are one of the main symptoms of stroke. According to a current study, important risk factors are often not recognized in advance.

Two-thirds of all strokes are not diagnosed early. This is the result of a study from Switzerland.

Sudden headaches, speech disturbances and paralysis are typical signs of a stroke: around 270,000 people in Germany suffer from this cardiovascular disease each year, which can have serious consequences. A study now shows that important risk factors often go undetected. Four are particularly important.

Stroke: 4 little known risk factors

Smoking, alcohol, stress, and a lack of exercise are all considered to be major risk factors for a stroke. A Swiss study that analyzed data from around 4,000 stroke patients from 2003 to 2018 now shows that more than two-thirds of them previously suffered from a major unrecognized risk factor. According to this, around 800 participants knew nothing about some risk factors associated with their stroke.

The 4 most common unrecognized risk factors for stroke

  1. Dyslipidemia
    74% of all stroke patients suffered from what is known as dyslipidemia. In more than half, dyslipidemia was not diagnosed at the time of the stroke.
  2. high blood pressure
    High blood pressure (hypertension) was the second unrecognized risk factor with 23.7%.
  3. atrial fibrillation
    Atrial fibrillation, a predominantly chronic cardiac arrhythmia, ranks third among undiagnosed risk factors with 10.2%.
  4. Diabetes
    At 5.2%, diabetes mellitus is the fourth most common undiscovered risk factor for a stroke.

“We still have a health system designed for acute disease and less for chronic disease or preventive measures,” explained André Rêgo of the Center Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois in Lausanne, who has now presented the results to the Congress of the European Academy of Neurology. To achieve the goal of a healthier population, this must change.

Common unrecognized risk factors in young people

Undiagnosed risk factors have occurred particularly in young people, but also in connection with taking a hormonal contraceptive (contraceptive) in patients under the age of 55 or in smokers from the age of 55. At the same time, there were fewer patients in the group who were overweight or were taking platelet aggregation inhibitors (against thrombosis).

According to Rêgo, scientists have not yet been able to fully explain this “overweight paradox”. It is probably due to the misconception that normal weight is automatically associated with a healthy lifestyle.



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