Advancements in stroke knowledge
Cheryl Bushnell, MD, director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, is author of a new scientific statement offering guidelines to help prevent stroke in women. The guidelines, published in February in the American Heart Association journal Stroke, outline stroke risk and emphasize scientifically based recommendations on how best to treat risks. “If you are a woman, you share many of the same risk factors for stroke with men, but your risk is also influenced by hormones, reproductive health, pregnancy, childbirth and other sex-related factors,” Bushnell said. The new guidelines, developed with a team of co-authors, outline steps that can be taken to help protect women against stroke, focusing on those with high blood pressure, preeclampsia, atrial fibrillation, migraines, diabetes and more. Separately, in June 2014, Bushnell was lead author of a study identifying risk factors for hospital readmissions in stroke patients. The study found that readmitted patients were significantly more likely to have a prior diagnosis of congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, cancer or absence of hyperlipidemia, elevated lipid (fat) levels in the blood. In addition, it showed that readmitted patients were more likely to have been hospitalized two or more times during the year prior to the initial stroke admission. The findings suggest that stroke severity and the number of hospitalizations within the year prior to the stroke admission are important predictors of subsequent readmission within 30 days, independent of other clinical factors, Bushnell said. The goal is to eventually develop tools and programs for stroke patients to keep them from being readmitted.