Stroke Prevention More Urgent for African Americans

FEBRUARY 09, 2016
Gale Scott
Stroke prevention is a more urgent task for physicians treating African Americans—based on that group’s higher risk of having a first-time stroke, Alabama researchers have found.

But that risk appears to be based on traditional factors that lead to strokes, such as co-morbidities and smoking,  rather than race itself.

Reporting in Neurology, George Howard, DrPH at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, published key findings from ongoing research on the reasons for geography and racial difference in stroke.

In a study known as REGARDS, Howard and colleagues round that African American participants in the study were 2.7 times more likely to have had a stroke by age 45 as white participants.

But by age 85 there was no difference in stroke risk for the two races.

Overall, blacks are at a higher risk of having a stroke, though the rate is declining.
.Whites are also seeing a decline in that risk, one that is dropping more quickly than in blacks, Howard reported.

"Almost all of the 'traditional' risk factors for a first stroke proved to also be risk factors for a second stroke, suggesting that controlling these risk factors may help avoid both conditions," Howard said. "These risk factors include heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, irregular heartbeat and others."

More than 29,682 people are enrolled in the REGARDS Study. Of those, 2,993 people had a history of stroke at their first evaluation, with 301 of them having a second stroke. Of the 26,689 people who did not have a stroke previous to the study, 818 people experienced a first-time stroke during the study.

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