What is the explanation for these common stroke statistics?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

After a stroke (not full blown), they say 1 out of 12 will have another stroke and 1 out of 4 will die. They don't say "if you don't get your blood pressure under control" or for whatever reason. What exactly does this mean?

Expert Answers

James Castle, M.D. is a neurologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem (affiliated with The University of Chicago) and an expert on strokes.

Many of the stroke statistics commonly quoted in the literature, in my opinion, are somewhat outdated. In particular, the mortality rates are always changing, have much to do with the type and severity of the stroke, and the hospital setting in which the stroke was treated.

With regards to the recurrent stroke risk, as a general rule of thumb (for the average stroke patient, which of course is not true of all individuals) about 5% of all stroke victims would suffer a second stroke within a year if they took no medication and did not follow their doctor's advice. Each class of treatment added on (blood thinner, blood pressure management, cholesterol management, smoking cessation, etc.) lowers that risk signficantly. Therefore, someone who is fully compliant with their doctor's recommendations should have a much lower stroke rate than the historical data sets that are typically quoted. And, of course, strokes come in "all shapes and sizes", and generalizations are very difficult to make.

I hope this helps.