Secular Trends in Ischemic Stroke Subtypes and Stroke Risk Factors
Background and Purpose—Early diagnosis and treatment of a stroke improves patient outcomes, and knowledge of the cause of the initial event is crucial to identification of the appropriate therapy to maximally reduce risk of recurrence. Assumptions based on historical frequency of ischemic subtypes may need revision if stroke subtypes are changing as a result of recent changes in therapy, such as increased use of statins.
Methods—We analyzed secular trends in stroke risk factors and ischemic stroke subtypes among patients with transient ischemic attack or minor or moderate stroke referred to an urgent transient ischemic attack clinic from 2002 to 2012.
Results—There was a significant decline in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and blood pressure, associated with a significant decline in large artery stroke and small vessel stroke. The proportion of cardioembolic stroke increased from 26% in 2002 to 56% in 2012 (P<0.05 for trend). Trends remained significant after adjusting for population change.
Conclusions—With more intensive medical management in the community, a significant decrease in atherosclerotic risk factors was observed, with a significant decline in stroke/transient ischemic attack caused by large artery atherosclerosis and small vessel disease. As a result, cardioembolic stroke/transient ischemic attack has increased significantly. Our findings suggest that more intensive investigation for cardiac sources of embolism and greater use of anticoagulation may be warranted.
- Received June 22, 2014.
- Revision received August 20, 2014.
- Accepted August 27, 2014.
- © 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.