Online Calculator Predicts Stroke Risk

August 15, 2020
Physicians can predict a patient’s risk for ischaemic stroke based on the severity of their metabolic syndrome, according to a study published in Stroke. The study found that stroke risk increased consistently with metabolic syndrome severity even in patients without diabetes. Physicians can use this information -- and the scoring tool developed -- to identify patients at risk and help them reduce that risk. “We had previously shown that the severity of metabolic syndrome was linked to future coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes,” said Mark DeBoer, MD, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia. “This study showed further links to future ischaemic strokes.” Dr. DeBoer developed the scoring tool, an online calculator to assess the severity of metabolic syndrome, with Matthew J. Gurka, PhD, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. The tool is available for free at https://metscalc.org/ To evaluate the association between ischaemic stroke and metabolic syndrome, the researchers reviewed more than 13,000 participants in prior studies and their stroke outcomes. Among that group, there were 709 ischaemic strokes over a mean period of 18.6 years assessed in the studies. The researchers used their tool to calculate Z scores measuring the severity of metabolic syndrome among the study participants. They could then analyse the association between metabolic syndrome and ischaemic stroke risk. The subgroup with the highest association between metabolic syndrome and risk for ischaemic stroke was white women. In this group, the research team was able to identify relationships between the individual contributors to metabolic syndrome, such as high blood pressure, and stroke risk. The researchers noted that race and sex did not seem to make a major difference in stroke risk overall, and they caution that the increased risk seen in white women could be the results of chance alone. “Nevertheless, these results are notable enough that they may warrant further study into race and sex differences,” the authors noted. However, the overall relationship between metabolic syndrome severity and stroke risk was clear and this suggests people with metabolic syndrome can make lifestyle changes to reduce that risk. The researchers hope the tool will help doctors guide patients as they seek to reduce their stroke risk and improve their health and well-being. “In case there are still individuals out there debating whether to start exercising or eating a healthier diet, this study provides another wake-up call to motivate us all toward lifestyle changes,” said Dr. DeBoer. Reference: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/STROKEAHA.120.028944 SOURCE: University of Virginia Health System