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Preventive Measures Pay Off for Those at Risk of Stroke
Date:7/17/2012

TUESDAY, July 17 (HealthDay News) -- Helping patients avoid stroke and dementia risk factors, such as high cholesterol, smoking and diabetes, can leave them with a longer, healthier old age, a new study finds.

Researchers in Germany also found that by following recommended treatment guidelines and goals, fewer patients at high risk for stroke and dementia will need expensive long-term care.

"Primary prevention pays off," the study's lead author, Horst Bickel, senior researcher in the department of psychiatry at the Technical University of Munich, said in a news release from the American Heart Association. "We found that not only the risk of long-term care dependence was lower, but also that death rates decreased."

In conducting the study, the researchers followed almost 4,000 people aged 55 and older living in a rural region of Germany. Their family doctors were given brochures summarizing treatment recommendations for stroke and dementia.

Bickel's team compared outcomes among these patients to another 13,000 people in a nearby town who received care that did not focus on the prevention of these health problems.

Over the course of five years, patients treated by doctors focused on reducing risk factors saw their need for long-term care drop by about 10 percent compared to the communities that didn't have this intervention. The study also showed that the cost of inpatient treatment for these patients was reduced.

The researchers believe a focus on curbing stroke and dementia risk factors decreased the number of deaths in the intervention group from the expected 2,112 people to just 1,939.

In order to prevent stroke and dementia, doctors encouraged patients to:

  • Get more exercise
  • Eat a healthier diet
  • Stop smoking
  • Reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels

"At the population level, even simple measures can lead to substantial achie
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