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Semin Vasc Med. 2004 Aug;4(3):287-303.

Cerebrovascular risk factors and clinical classification of strokes.

Author information

1
Department of Internal Medicine and Cardioangiology, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy.

Abstract

Cerebrovascular risk represents a progressive and evolving concept owing to the particular distribution of risk factors in patients with ischemic stroke and in light of the newest stroke subtype classifications that account for pathophysiological, instrumental, and clinical criteria. Age represents the strongest nonmodifiable risk factor associated with ischemic stroke, while hypertension constitutes the most important modifiable cerebrovascular risk factor, confirmed by a host of epidemiological data and by more recent intervention trials of primary (HOT, Syst-Eur, LIFE) and secondary (PROGRESS) prevention of stroke in hypertensive patients. To be sure, a curious relationship exists between stroke and diabetes. Although the Framingham Study, The Honolulu Heart Program, and a series of Finnish studies reported a linear relationship between improved glucose metabolism and cerebral ischemia, the clinical and prognostic profile of diabetic patients with ischemic stroke remains to be fully understood. Our group, on the basis of TOAST classification--a diagnostic classification of ischemic stroke developed in 1993 that distinguishes five different clinical subtypes of ischemic stroke: large-artery atherosclerosis (LAAS), cardioembolic infarct (CEI), lacunar infarct (LAC), stroke of other determined origin (ODE), and stroke of undetermined origin (UDE), and now extensively used in clinical and scientific context--analysed the prevalence of cerebrovascular risk factors and the distribution of TOAST subtypes in more 300 patients with acute ischemic stroke in two consecutives studies that reported the significant association between diabetes and the lacunar subtype and a better clinical outcome for diabetic patients, most likely related to the higher prevalence of the lacunar subtype. Well-confirmed are the roles of cigarette smoking, atrial fibrillation, and asymptomatic carotid stenosis as cerebrovascular risk factors. Particularly interesting seems to be the function of inflammation markers (CRP, TNF-alpha, IL-1 beta, ISPs) as potential risk factors. Still elusive remains the association between cholesterol serum levels and stroke, on the basis of the epidemiological data regarding this causative relationship, confirmed only by the results of intervention trials (4S, LIPID, CARE, HPS, ASCOT). Ultimately, cerebrovascular risk appears peculiar owing to the unique relationship between some modifiable risk factors (mainly diabetes and cholesterol) and the possible preferential association with stroke subtypes and specific cerebrovascular risks.

PMID:
15630637
DOI:
10.1055/s-2004-861497
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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