Secondary prevention of new vascular events with lifestyle intervention in patients with noncardioembolic mild ischemic stroke: a single-center randomized controlled trial

Cerebrovasc Dis. 2013;36(2):88-97. doi: 10.1159/000352052. Epub 2013 Sep 11.


Background: Lifestyle modification is associated with a substantially decreased risk of cardiovascular events. However, the role of lifestyle intervention for secondary prevention in patients with noncardioembolic ischemic stroke is inadequately defined. We assessed the hypothesis that lifestyle intervention can reduce the onset of new vascular events in patients with noncardioembolic mild ischemic stroke.

Methods: We conducted an observer-blind randomized controlled trial that enrolled 70 patients (48 men, mean age 63.5 years) with acute noncardioembolic mild ischemic stroke. The patients were allocated in equal numbers to a lifestyle intervention group or a control group. We performed lifestyle interventions, which comprised exercise training, salt restriction and nutrition advice for 24 weeks. Then all patients were prospectively followed up for occurrence of the primary endpoints, including hospitalization due to stroke recurrence and the onset of other vascular events. We also evaluated systolic blood pressure (SBP) at the clinic and at home, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) to compare the efficacy of the lifestyle interventions.

Results: This trial was terminated earlier than expected because of the prespecified early stopping rule for efficacy. After the 24-week intervention period, the intervention group showed a significant increase in daily physical activity and a significant decrease in salt intake (physical activity, p = 0.012; salt intake, p < 0.001), with a significant difference between the randomized groups (physical activity, p < 0.001; salt intake, p = 0.018). Similarly, blood pressure was decreased and the HDL-C levels were increased in the intervention group (SBP, p < 0.001; HDL-C, p = 0.018), with significant differences between the randomized groups (SBP, p < 0.001; HDL-C, p = 0.022). In contrast, LDL-C, HbA1c and hs-CRP tended to decrease in the intervention group, but this decrease did not achieve significance. After a median follow-up period of 2.9 years, 12 patients allocated to the control group and 1 patient in the lifestyle intervention group experienced at least 1 vascular event. A sequential plans analysis indicated the superiority of the lifestyle intervention in interim analysis. Kaplan-Meier survival curves after the log-rank test showed a significant prognostic difference between the randomized groups (p = 0.005).

Conclusions: Lifestyle intervention with appropriate medication is beneficial for reducing the incidence of new vascular events and improving vascular risk factors in patients with noncardioembolic mild ischemic stroke.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ischemia / prevention & control*
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Secondary Prevention* / methods
  • Stroke / prevention & control*
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Triglycerides
  • C-Reactive Protein