Quick Tests Can Assess Stroke Risk

Three simple, cheap tests could prevent brain attacks in seniors, study finds

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THURSDAY, Feb. 5, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Three inexpensive, quick and simple tests for stroke risk could save lives and billions of dollars in health-care costs in the United States.

That's what researchers will tell those attending the American Stroke Association's annual meeting in San Diego on Feb. 5.

The study says these tests, which can be done in four minutes and cost about $20, may help assess the risk of stroke in elderly people and the appropriate treatment. That could reduce the number of strokes each year and result in huge savings.

The three tests include: a "quick scan" of the carotid arteries in the neck; electrical measurement of heart rhythm using electrocardiogram; and blood pressure measurement.

Using these tests, researchers screened 2,532 people over age 60 in central California. The tests found: neck artery blockages obstructing more than 50 percent of the artery in 7.5 percent (189) of those tested; atrial fibrillation in 5 percent (128); and high blood pressure in 29.5 percent (746).

Researchers tried to prevent strokes in these people either by surgical removal of the carotid blockages or with drug treatment.

The study says that if all 40 million Medicare recipients in the United States received similar stroke prevention screening, more than 200,000 strokes and 30,000 deaths could be prevented each year. That would result in savings of more than $12 billion in health-care costs a year, the authors suggest.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about stroke risk factors.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Feb. 5, 2004

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