The researchers are conducting a more rigorous study to compare patients who take part in cardiac rehab to those who don't.
Commenting on the findings, Dr. Michael Katsnelson, an assistant professor of clinical neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, cautioned that the study has limitations. "A much bigger, randomized trial needs to be conducted to measure carefully secondary strokes and TIA and compare it to a control group with traditional medical management," he said.
It's not clear why some people didn't finish the cardiac rehabilitation program, he noted, and it's also not certain that reducing risk factors will reduce the risk of a second stroke. "There may be additional factors that contribute to recurrent stroke that we do not yet understand or target properly," Katsnelson pointed out.
Still, he said, it's clear that "there is good evidence that lowering one's cholesterol, blood pressure and sugar to recommended levels, quitting smoking, a healthy diet and regular exercise" lead to less risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.
The study findings were released online Sept. 22 in advance of publication in the November print issue of the journal Stroke.
For more about strokes, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
-- Randy Dotinga
SOURCES: American Heart Association, news release, Sept. 22, 2011; Michael Katsnelson, M.D., assistant professor, clinical neurology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
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