Prevention of stroke in patients with diabetes mellitus and the metabolic syndrome.
The basic principles of stroke prevention are the same in patients with diabetes and/or the metabolic syndrome as in those without. Blood-pressure lowering is highly effective in both primary and secondary prevention of stroke in diabetics, and there is no evidence to suggest that the benefits of lipid-lowering therapy are any less. Antiplatelet agents are effective in secondary prevention and may be indicated in asymptomatic diabetic patients, who have a substantially increased risk of acute vascular events. Uncertainty over optimal management of patients with diabetes, and possibly of those with metabolic syndrome, relates more to the thresholds for initiation of treatment. The decision to initiate treatment should depend on the balance between the absolute risk of potentially preventable events and the risks of any complications of treatment. The absolute risks of ischaemic stroke and acute coronary events are significantly increased in diabetics in population-based cohort studies and the recommended thresholds for instigating blood pressure lowering and lipid lowering are therefore lower than in the general population. Optimization of strategies to prevent vascular complications must be a priority, given the rapid rises in the incidence and prevalence of type 2 diabetes and the metabolic syndrome in most populations across the globe.