Determining the appropriateness of selected surgical and medical management options in recurrent stroke prevention: A guideline for primary care physicians from the National Stroke Association work group on recurrent stroke prevention
Despite a decade of successful clinical trials for stroke prevention, substantial gaps exist in the application and implementation of this information in community practice. The frequency of guideline use is low, and there remains controversy regarding the standard of practice. Patients with stroke may have multiple risk factors and concomitant stroke mechanisms, factors that are not addressed in stroke clinical trials and guideline statements. New guidelines are needed to account for these complexities and to provide primary care physicians a practical means to achieve stroke prevention. We sought to develop guidelines that can be implemented by primary care physicians to enhance the use of medical and surgical measures for recurrent stroke prevention. We sought to test the applicability of current evidence-based guidelines to daily practice with routine and complex patient case scenarios to determine whether these could be simplified into a more easily applied form for primary care physicians. We used RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Methodology to develop guidelines for the use of interventions supported by randomized controlled trials including carotid revascularization, anticoagulant therapy, antiplatelet therapy, and blood pressure management for the prevention of recurrent stroke. After a systematic literature review of randomized clinical trials we developed a comprehensive list of indications or clinical scenarios to capture decision making. A diverse multidisciplinary panel reviewed and rated each indication according to the RAND Appropriateness Method. First, panelists rated each scenario (1-3 for inappropriate, 4-6 for uncertain, and 7-9 for appropriate) without interaction with other panelists. "Appropriate" was defined as the expected health benefit exceeding its expected negative consequences by a sufficient margin. At a formal interactive session, panelists re-rated all indications. Overall carotid endarterectomy was rated as appropriate when there was 50% to 99% ipsilateral symptomatic carotid artery stenosis, inappropriate with <50% or 100% stenosis (total occlusion), and uncertain when the surgical risk was high. Carotid angioplasty was generally rated as of uncertain value. When there was atrial fibrillation, anticoagulation with warfarin was rated as appropriate when there was a low bleeding risk but of uncertain value when the bleeding risk was high. For patients who were not candidates for warfarin therapy, aspirin, aspirin plus extended-release dipyridamole, or clopidogrel were all rated as appropriate initial therapies. Ticlopidine was considered inappropriate and aspirin plus clopidogrel of uncertain value. With the exception of ticlopidine and aspirin, persons with a prior cerebral ischemic event while on aspirin could receive any of the aforementioned antiplatelet agents or combinations and be considered appropriately treated. The panelists rated a blood pressure of <130/80 mm Hg at 1 year after ischemic stroke as the target level and rated any of the following agents as appropriate initial therapies if there was no diabetes mellitus or proteinuria: diuretics, beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin-converting enzyme receptor blockers, or combinations of a diuretic and an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker. Patient risk played a significant role in deterring the panel from recommending certain therapies; however, the presence of atrial fibrillation or large or small cerebral vessel syndromes rarely had significant influence on treatment decisions. Appropriateness was less where bleeding or surgical risk was excessive. Using consensus evidence from clinical trials, we have developed recurrent stroke prevention guidelines for routine and more complex patient scenarios according to appropriateness methodology. Broad application of these guidelines in primary practice promises to reduce the burden of recurrent stroke.
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[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cerebrovascular disease is the third leading cause of mortality and the leading cause of long-term neurological disability in the United States. Most strokes are of ischemic origin and, other than cardioembolic or small vessel strokes, are caused by the development of platelet-fibrin thrombi on an atherosclerotic plaque. This underlying disease mechanism shares important features with coronary artery disease and peripheral artery disease, highlighting the systemic nature of atherothrombosis and the elevated cross risk in stroke patients for ischemic events in other vascular beds. It has been estimated that up to 80% of ischemic strokes could be prevented with application of currently available treatments for blood pressure, cholesterol, and antithrombotic therapies. Stroke is not, like cancer, waiting for a scientific breakthrough; stroke preventive treatments are well understood and widely available. It is only the application of these treatments to patients, many of whom do not visit physicians, that is lacking. Clearly, better education of the public and active participation of primary care physicians is essential to get the message out to all those at risk.
The Journal of the American Board of Family Practice / American Board of Family Practice 11/2005; 18(6):528-40. DOI:10.3122/jabfm.18.6.528
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Blood pressure management is an important issue for the primary prevention, acute management, and secondary prevention of a stroke. Rehabilitation professionals need to consider the timing in lowering blood pressures in stroke survivors, the types of medications that should be used in managing hypertension, and the target pressures to achieve. The Post-Stroke Rehabilitation Outcomes Project (PSROP) database was used to describe the types of antihypertensive medications prescribed to stroke survivors, compare prescription patterns with current practice guidelines of the management of hypertension after a stroke, and determine whether systolic and diastolic blood pressures decrease during admissions to inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs). Of the 1,161 patients in the PSROP database, the most commonly prescribed antihypertensive medications were the angiotensin-converting enzyme antagonists and angiotensin II antagonists, followed by beta-blockers, calcium-channel blockers and diuretics, adrenergics (alpha-blockers), and other (minoxidil, hydralazine) medications. Systolic, diastolic, and mean arterial pressures declined in participants during admissions to IRFs. However, blood pressures were significantly higher throughout IRF stays in participants receiving antihypertensive medications when compared to those not receiving antihypertensive medications. Rehabilitation professionals need to be cognizant of the relationship between stroke and hypertension, clinical practice guidelines that provide evidence-based management tools for hypertension, and patient issues that may hinder the effective treatment of hypertension.