Journal of the neurological sciences 2017 01 07373() 289-294 pii S0022-510X(17)30022-9
Stroke prevention is an important public health goal in low-and-middle income countries (LMIC) due to its high mortality and morbidity in these settings. Epidemiological data from high-income countries have demonstrated a potent predictive association between self-reported stroke symptoms and risks of future strokes, incident cognitive impairment and all-cause mortality.
To utilize a pictographic version of the 8-item Questionnaire for Verifying Stroke Free Status (QVSFS) to screen for stroke symptoms and determine its predictors among hypertensive and diabetic patients in a rural hospital within a LMIC.
Between July and October 2016, 500 consecutive patients with hypertension and/or diabetes mellitus encountered in clinic at the Agogo Presbyterian Hospital, a district level health institution in Ghana were enrolled. A validated pictographic version of the QVSFS was administered by trained research assistants to all study participants and demographic and clinical information on hypertension and diabetes control were collected. The neurologist/specialist physician examined all patients neurologically using a structured questionnaire and reviewed medical charts for objective documentary evidence of stroke. Predictors of stroke symptoms were assessed using a multivariate logistic regression model.
Among the cohort, median (IQR) age was 58 (51-66) years, 399 (79.8%) were women, 388 (77.6%) had hypertension, 92 (18.4%) had diabetes and hypertension, and 20 (4.0%) had just diabetes. 30 (6.0%) patients had confirmed stroke/TIA after physician evaluation, 151 (30.6%) had at least one symptom of stroke (SS) without prior diagnosis of stroke/TIA and 319 (63.8%) reported no stroke symptoms. Independent predictors of reporting stroke symptoms were increasing age – aOR: 1.38 (1.16-1.64) for each 10years older and HBA1C-OR: 1.74 (1.16-2.61) for each 2% increase. Subjects with previous stroke/TIA diagnosis had significantly higher mean±SD systolic blood pressure (148.0±21.2mmHg vs. 136.0±17.3mmHg vs. 138.3±19.7mmHg, p=0.009) and median (IQR) HBA1C (8.8% (6.7-10.2) vs. 8.2 (6.4-10.6) vs. 7.2 (6.3-8.0), p=0.05) compared with SS and asymptomatic groups.
One in three patients with hypertension and/diabetes in rural Ghana report stroke-like symptoms. Routine use of the pictographic version of the QVSFS could assist in identifying patients with or at high risk for stroke who may benefit from appropriate prevention treatments.