Contribution of prevention to vascular cerebral disease management

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BackgroundEpidemiological studies suggest that significant reductions in the incidence of stroke, as with coronary heart disease, can be expected by reducing the prevalence or shifting the distribution of risk factors across the entire population. Thus, identifying risk factors and intervening to control or modify them remains the most important means of further reducing the incidence and case fatality of stroke in developed countries, and controlling the emerging epidemic of cardiovascular disease in developing countries. All people should be encouraged to stop smoking, reduce weight, and increase physical activity and the consumption of fruit and vegetables.MethodsThe high-risk strategy involves the identification and management of people at high risk of developing stroke. Therapies of proven benefit in the prevention of stroke among certain individuals are blood pressure lowering therapy, antiplatelet therapy, anticoagulation therapy and carotid endarterectomy. Evidence is mounting that aggressive treatment of hypercholestrolaemia and hyperglycaemia is also effective in reducing the risk of stroke, but the role of aspirin and carotid endarterectomy in the primary prevention of stroke remains uncertain. This article will review strategies for the prevention of stroke, except blood pressure lowering therapy, which is discussed elsewhere, and address some of the questions about which individuals have the most to gain from various interventions.

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