New way of predicting stroke risk

09/05/2003 - News

New way of predicting stroke risk

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD


A scoring system can help those with new onset of atrial fibrillation predict the risk of stroke.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart rhythm abnormality which increases the risk of stroke by five to six times. But it has not been clear which patients with AF run the biggest risk of having a stroke.

Researchers for the long running Framingham Heart Study in the US looked at 868 participants newly diagnosed with AF, of whom most were not treated with the drug warfarin - a blood thinning agent that could help prevent stroke. During follow up lasting around four years, the researchers learned that the main risk factors were: advancing age, female gender, high blood pressure and previous history of stroke or transient ischemic attack. Such knowledge of risk factors should help doctors decide whether or not to start anticoagulation therapy and whether to stop it before surgery. Those with a low risk of stroke may not actually need to take warfarin.


Journal of the American Medical Association 27th August 2003

Created on: 09/05/2003
Reviewed on: 09/05/2003

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