Putting Your Health in Your Own Hands: A New Strategy for Primary Stroke Prevention
Feigin, VL; Krishnamurthi, R; Bhattacharjee, R
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As evidenced by the increasing stroke burden worldwide, currently used primary stroke prevention strategies are not effective enough. One of the main reasons for insufficient effectiveness of the currently used primary stroke prevention strategies are the lack of community-wide primary preventative interventions, low awareness of the population about their risk factors and risk of having a stroke. Although most strokes are happening in people at low risk of stroke, these people are largely missed out in the currently used high-risk primary stroke prevention strategies and they are not motivated enough to manage their risk factors and reduce the risk of having a stroke. Other important factor that contributes to the lack of effectiveness of the currently used primary stroke prevention strategies is an availability of health professionals in developing countries and cost associated with visiting health practitioners to assess the risk of having a cardiovascular disease. To overcome these barriers AUT University has developed a not-for-profit Stroke Riskometer App that not only allows identification of stroke-related risk factors and estimation of the absolute risk of having a stroke within the next 5 and 10 years but also estimates a relative risk of stroke, thus motivating people at low risk to initiate self-management recommendations for stroke prevention outlined in the app. All stroke prevention recommendations in the App are based on international guidelines for primary stroke prevention. Based on the Framingham stroke prediction algorithm and upgraded to include several additional environmental risk factors for stroke, the App has been endorsed by the World Stroke Organization, World Federation of Neurology and International Association of Neurology and Epidemiology. A new research version of the App for carrying out large international observational and experimental studies on prevention of stroke, heart attack, dementia and diabetes mellitus is being developed and validated on large cohort studies and will be available for free downloads in12 most spoken languages by the end of 2014. This signifies a new paradigm for not only primary prevention of stroke on a population level but also for conducting a research to reduce the burden of stroke, heart attack, dementia and diabetes mellitus worldwide.