Increasing prevalence of vascular risk factors in patients with stroke: A call to action



To evaluate trends in prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors (hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia, smoking, and drug abuse) and cardiovascular diseases (carotid stenosis, chronic renal failure [CRF], and coronary artery disease [CAD]) in acute ischemic stroke (AIS) in the United States.


We used the 2004–2014 National Inpatient Sample to compute weighted prevalence of each risk factor in hospitalized patients with AIS and used joinpoint regression to evaluate change in prevalence over time.


Across the 2004–2014 period, 92.5% of patients with AIS had ≥1 risk factor. Overall age- and sex-adjusted prevalence of hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia, smoking, and drug abuse were 79%, 34%, 47%, 15%, and 2%, respectively, while those of carotid stenosis, CRF, and CAD were 13%, 12%, and 27%, respectively. Risk factor prevalence varied by age (hypertension: 44% in 18–39 years vs 82% in 60–79 years), race (diabetes: Hispanic 49% vs white 30%), and sex (drug abuse: men 3% vs women 1.4%). Using joinpoint regression, prevalence of hypertension increased annually by 1.4%, diabetes by 2%, dyslipidemia by 7%, smoking by 5%, and drug abuse by 7%. Prevalence of CRF, carotid stenosis, and CAD increased annually by 13%, 6%, and 1%, respectively. Proportion of patients with multiple risk factors also increased over time.


Despite numerous guidelines and prevention initiatives, prevalence of hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia, smoking, and drug abuse in AIS increased across the 2004–2014 period. Proportion of patients with carotid stenosis, CRF, and multiple risk factors also increased. Enhanced risk factor modification strategies and implementation of evidence-based recommendations are needed for optimal stroke prevention.


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