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Identification and management of stroke risk in older people: a national survey of current practice in primary care


The current practice of stroke prevention was assessed among UK general practitioners (GPs) using a postal questionnaire. A random sample of 583 GPs (response rate 60%) in practice throughout the UK was examined. Main outcomes were the reported practice in the identification of stroke risk, management of hypertension, and use of other interventions (particularly aspirin treatment) to reduce the risk of stroke. Most respondents (451, 77%) reported that they specifically identified patients at high risk of stroke. However, of these only 301 (67%) used more than one major risk factor to do this and less than one-third used either age or pre-existing cardiovascular disease as an indicator. Thresholds for drug treatment of hypertension increased markedly with patient age with only 68%, 23% and 9% of respondents reporting treating elevated systolic, diastolic and isolated systolic pressures respectively, in accord with the British Hypertension Society (BHS) guidelines for patients aged 70–79 years. Thresholds for blood pressure (BP) treatment in older patients did not differ by region but were higher among respondents who had been in general practice for more than 10 years. The value of aspirin in preventing stroke in patients with pre-existing cardiovascular disease was recognized by almost all (560, 96%) respondents. The results suggest that there is scope for increasing the benefits of stroke prevention in primary care, by focusing on the management of patients at high absolute risk, in whom the greatest treatment benefits are likely to be obtained.

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Coppola, W., Whincup, P., Walker, M. et al. Identification and management of stroke risk in older people: a national survey of current practice in primary care. J Hum Hypertens 11, 185–191 (1997).

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  • cerebrovascular disease
  • primary prevention
  • primary care

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