Statistics show about one-quarter of stroke patients are at risk of having a second stroke, possibly even more serious than the first. University of Cincinnati researchers have been awarded a $3-million grant to study the risk of stroke recurrence.
Radiologist Dr. Achala Vagal is examining thousands of patient images of the brain from an existing study to detect differences.
She says one thing she's looking for are really tiny brain bleeds. "These are called micro-hemorrhages," she explains. "So we are looking at that and then of course we are looking at the overall atrophy of the brain. You know, has the brain shrunk over time. And unfortunately these people are not only at risk for recurrent stroke but they are also at risk sometimes for dementia.
"We are hoping to tell which patients would get a recurrent stroke and then have very targeted therapies for them," she adds.
Based on this information, radiologists could be trained to spot risk factors and patients would be given drugs to prevent a second stroke.
Recurring strokes total 800,000 annually in the U.S.
Vagal says this will the first and only population-based report of the entire imaging spectrum of brain health in stroke patients.