Secondary Stroke Prevention: Improving Diagnosis and Management with Newer Technologies
Treatment of hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking cessation, and healthy lifestyle have all contributed to the decline in the incidence of vascular disease over the last several decades. Patients who suffer an acute stroke are at a high risk for recurrence. Introduction of newer technologies and their wider use allows for better identification of patients in whom the risk of recurrence following an acute stroke may be very high. Traditionally, the major focus for diagnosis and management has focused on patient history, examination, imaging for carotid stenosis/occlusion, and detection of AF and paroxysmal AF (PAF) with 24-48 h cardiac monitoring. This review focuses on the usefulness of three newer investigative tools that are becoming widely available and lead to better prevention. Continuous ambulatory blood pressure measurements for 24 h or longer and 3D Doppler measures of the carotid arteries provide key useful information on the state of vascular health and enhance our ability to monitor the response to preventive therapies. Furthermore, the detection of PAF can be significantly improved with prolonged cardiac monitoring for 3 weeks or longer, enabling the initiation of appropriate prevention therapy. This review will focus on the potential impact and importance of these emerging technologies on the prevention of recurrent stroke in high-risk patients.