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Smoking, high blood pressure and cholesterol increase the mortality rate in stroke patients

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Smoking, high blood pressure and cholesterol increase the mortality rate in stroke patients

According to a Finnish study published in Neurology, patients who had subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH) have an increased risk of death due to ischemic stroke or hemorrhagic stroke. In addition, it appears that the risk of mortality in these patients is double compared to the general population. The study, led by HUCH, the University of Helsinki, and the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, is one of the largest population-based follow-up study conducted so far on the mortality rate of patients who experienced SAH.

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Neurosurgeon Miikka Korja from the HUCH’s Neurosurgery Department, said that patients who had subarachnoid haemorrhage should be very careful to control cardiovascular risk factors such as smoking, high cholesterol and hypertension. He added that these are primary risk factors for cerebrovascular events, besides age.

The study included 64,000 Finns aged between 25 and 74 years. It was found that, of these, 437 have suffered a subarachnoid haemorrhage during research. Among those who suffered SAH, approximately half of the patients (233) were alive at one year after the episode. After being followed for 8.6 years, 88 (37%) of the 233 died during follow-up.

It was found that the death rate in this group of patients was double compared with the mortality rate calculated in the general population. Regarding the causes of this increased mortality, it was found that the main cause of death was a disturbance of cerebral circulation, that is an ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke. It was also noticed that this mortality rate was  increased by risk factors such as smoking, high cholesterol and hypertension.

“When comparing the continued mortality of SAH survivors to the general population that did not smoke and had low blood pressure and low cholesterol levels, the risk of mortality showed an increase of 31 persons per thousand person-years” Korja mentioned. Therefore, by controlling risk factors, cerebrovascular events, that lead often to premature death, can be prevented. Korja said it is very important that risk factors be controlled since the acute phase of the disease. It is also essential that the patient understand the importance of lifestyle and risk factors (smoking, high cholesterol, hypertension) in secondary prevention of stroke. Another Finnish study published earlier showed that the primary cause underlying SAH is not a genetic predisposition, but the way of life.

Professor Jaakko Kaprio from the University of Helsinki’s Hjelt Institute, pointed out that lifestyle changes can reduce not only the occurrence of SAH but also mortality in those who survive after such an episode.