Preventing a second stroke – medicines really reduce the risk

If someone has had a stroke, they are at risk of having another one. Taking blood thinners and medicines for blood pressure and cholesterol, along with lifestyle changes, can really reduce the risk of a second stroke. In the June edition of Australian Prescriber, Dr Chris Tremonti – advanced trainee in clinical pharmacology at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney – and a co-author discuss the medicines that are so important in reducing this risk.

Each year almost 20,000 Australians have a stroke. Most of these are caused by a blockage of an artery in the brain. Two in five of these people can expect to have another stroke in the next ten years. Medicines and lifestyle changes can minimise this risk.

“Depending on whether or not you have an irregular heart beat, you may be given an ‘antiplatelet’ or ‘anticoagulant’ blood thinner to reduce the risk of a blood clot forming, which could cause a stroke,” says Dr Tremonti.

“If you have high blood pressure after a stroke, it is especially important to bring it back to a safe range. Your doctor may prescribe blood pressure medicines to bring your blood pressure down.

“No matter what your cholesterol level, cholesterol-lowering ‘statin’ medicines reduce the risk of a second stroke,” he says.

Treatment recommendations for stroke prevention change regularly. The Australian Prescriber article reviews the evidence behind these latest recommendations.

“People who have a stroke are at the greatest risk of having a second stroke in the first few weeks. Keeping to the treatment tailored to the individual, in these few weeks and beyond, is an important way to prevent another stroke,” says Dr Termonti.

Read the article in Australian Prescriber.


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    Matthew Harris, NPS MedicineWise Communications & PR adviser: (02) 8217 9229, 0419 618 365 or [email protected]