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Stroke prevention in Europe: how are 11 European countries progressing toward the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) recommendations?

Authors Karnad A, Pannelay A, Boshnakova A, Lovell AD, Cook RG

Received 23 January 2018

Accepted for publication 30 May 2018

Published 22 August 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 117—125

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/RMHP.S163439

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Amy Norman

Peer reviewer comments 5

Editor who approved publication: Dr Kent Rondeau


Aditi Karnad, Annie Pannelay, Anelia Boshnakova, Alan D Lovell, Robert G Cook

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), London, UK

Purpose: Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability, although studies show that 90% of strokes can be prevented. The evidence base for stroke prevention is well established, and this study aimed to investigate how well European countries are adopting the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) guidelines, particularly toward implementation of the recommended best practice in stroke prevention.
Materials and methods: We developed a stroke prevention scorecard – populated with World Health Organization (WHO) data, secondary research, time-series data, and a survey of 550 physicians – to benchmark 11 European countries in the context of the ESC guidelines.
Results: All countries were found to have policies in place to manage general behavioral risk factors of noncommunicable disease (NCD), but we found that more needs to be done to address cardiovascular disease – specifically, stroke risk factors. Although ten of the countries in this study endorse the ESC cardiovascular clinical guidelines, implementation is lacking. Eight out of the 11 countries received the lowest score in regard to raising awareness around stroke, and 7 countries were found not to have a stroke registry. Among physicians surveyed in primary care it was reported that less than 30% of patients over 40 years old were screened for blood pressure, whereas even fewer were screened for atrial fibrillation; in 10 out of the 11 countries, less than 20% of patients over 65 years old were screened for atrial fibrillation.
Conclusion: Although progress is being made in managing the burden of NCDs, our findings reveal opportunities for improvement in the primary prevention of stroke. Further developments in strategic planning, raising awareness, and monitoring disease are required, as is research on barriers to the implementation of best practice screening of blood pressure and atrial fibrillation in primary care.

Keywords: stroke, risk factors, prevention, benchmarking, screening, clinical practice guideline

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