Self-Reported Stroke Symptoms Without a Prior Diagnosis of Stroke or Transient Ischemic Attack
A Powerful New Risk Factor for Stroke
Background and Purpose—Previously in the REasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) cohort, we found 18% of the stroke/transient ischemic attack-free study population reported ≥1 stroke symptom at baseline. We sought to evaluate the additional impact of these stroke symptoms on risk for subsequent stroke.
Methods—REGARDS recruited 30,239 US blacks and whites, aged 45+ years in 2003 to 2007 who are being followed every 6 months for events. All stroke events are physician-verified; those with prior diagnosed stroke or transient ischemic attack are excluded from this analysis. At baseline, participants were asked 6 questions regarding stroke symptoms. Measured stroke risk factors were components of the Framingham Stroke Risk Score.
Results—After excluding those with prior stroke or missing data, there were 24 412 participants in this analysis with a median follow-up of 4.4 years. Participants were 39% black, 55% female, and had median age of 64 years. There were 381 physician-verified stroke events. The Framingham Stroke Risk Score explained 72.0% of stroke risk; individual components explained between 0.2% (left ventricular hypertrophy) and 5.7% (age+race) of stroke risk. After adjustment for Framingham Stroke Risk Score factors, stroke symptoms were significantly related to stroke risk: for each stroke symptom reported, the risk of stroke increased by 21% per symptom.
Conclusions—Among participants without self-reported stroke or transient ischemic attack, prior stroke symptoms are highly predictive of future stroke events. Compared with Framingham Stroke Risk Score factors, the impact of stroke symptom on the prediction of future stroke was almost as large as the impact of smoking and hypertension and larger than the impact of diabetes and heart disease.
- Received January 25, 2011.
- Revision received April 27, 2011.
- Accepted May 6, 2011.
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.