Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

UAB Researchers Assess Stroke Symptoms as Predictor of Future Hospitalizations

Symptoms of stroke, which are common among the overall adult population, are associated with future risk of stroke as well as decreased physical functioning and reduced or impaired cognition. A recent study by Dr. Virginia Howard, professor in the department of epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham — in collaboration with Dr. Monika M. Safford, professor in the division of preventive medicine; Dr. Shauntice Allen, of the Dean’s Office; and Dr. Suzanne E. Judd, associate professor, and Dr. George Howard, professor, in the department of biostatistics, at UAB — sought to establish a link between stroke symptoms and self-reported hospitalization or visits to the emergency department (ED).

[Photo: Dr. Virginia Howard]

Using data from the national population-based longitudinal cohort study REGARDS (REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke), a history of stroke symptoms was evaluated among 30,239 black and white participants under the age of 45, who were enrolled in the study from 2003 to 2007. Reasons for hospitalization or ED visits were ascertained during follow-up through March 2013. The association between symptoms and hospitalization was calculated by proportional hazards analysis in the 27,126 participants who had not experienced a stroke or transient ischemic attack at baseline; adjustments were made for sociodemographics and risk factors.

Results reveal that “[o]ne or more stroke symptoms were reported by 4,758 (17.5 percent). After adjustment for sociodemographics, stroke symptoms were most strongly associated with greater risk of hospitalization/ED for cardiovascular disease (CVD) (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.87, 95 percent confidence interval [CI]: 1.78-1.96), stroke (HR = 1.69, 95 percent CI: 1.55-1.85), and any reason (HR = 1.39, 95 percent CI: 1.34-1.44). These associations remained significant and only modestly reduced after risk factor adjustment.”

The researchers determined that such symptoms are indicators of likely future hospitalizations and ED visits related to cardiovascular disease in general in addition to stroke. Says Dr. Howard, “Findings suggest a role for stroke symptom assessment as a novel and simple approach for identifying individuals at high risk for CVD including stroke in whom preventive strategies could be implemented.”

“Stroke Symptoms as a Predictor of Future Hospitalization” was published in January in the Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases.

Journal article: