One third of people who had a first stroke in the UK between 2009 and 2013 had known risk factors and were not taking the drugs that might have prevented their stroke.
Electronic general practice records from almost 30,000 people who had a stroke showed that about 60% had risk factors that meant they might have been eligible to take cholesterol-lowering, anti-clotting or blood pressure medication. But 54% of these people had no recent prescription for the appropriate drug(s).
The researchers estimate that almost 12,000 strokes a year in the UK could be prevented if everyone eligible for preventive drugs took them.
We don’t know the reasons why people weren’t prescribed these drugs. They might have had valid medical reasons for not taking them or have chosen not to take them against medical advice. The large scale of under-prescribing revealed in this study suggests a possible need for more systematic processes around identification and management of people with cardiovascular risk factors.