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Stroke rates decrease, still higher in Mexican Americans

Sunday August 25, 2013
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A new study shows the incidence of ischemic stroke among both non-Hispanic whites and Mexican Americans older than 60 has declined during the past decade, but the relative burden of stroke is unchanged and remains highest among Mexican Americans.

According to the study, conducted by researchers with the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, Mich., the stroke rate is 34% higher among Mexican Americans than non-Hispanic whites. The findings were published Aug. 13 on the website of the Annals of Neurology, a journal of the American Neurological Association and Child Neurology Society.

Hispanics are the largest minority group in the U.S. at 17% of the population, which is projected to increase to more than 30% by 2050, according to the U.S. Census.

Previous research showed Mexican Americans had higher stroke rates than non-Hispanic whites, a trend that raises concern about the effect on public health as the population ages, the researchers said. Experts estimate the cost of stroke for the first half of this century in the U.S. could amount to more than $1.5 trillion.

"In minority groups stroke occurs at much younger ages, often resulting in greater disability and significantly higher costs," lead study author Lewis B. Morgenstern, MD, director of the Stroke Program at the University of Michigan Health System, said in a news release.

The study is based on data from an ongoing stroke surveillance project focusing on Mexican Americans. Since 2000, every stroke occurring in those ages 45 and older living in Nueces County, Texas, has been counted and analyzed for the project Brain Attack Surveillance in Corpus Christi, also called BASIC.

BASIC is led by the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center, where researchers collaborate with a neurologist and study staff based in Corpus Christi. Together they examine the biological and social risk factors for stroke among Mexican Americans, information that may help reduce strokes and improve stroke care nationwide.

Two-thirds of those in the study were Mexican American and the remainder primarily non-Hispanic white, with 87% born in the U.S., 11% in Mexico and 1% who did not know their country of birth. Those born in Mexico had lived in the U.S. an average of 52 years.

The study showed ischemic stroke occurred in 2,604 Mexican Americans and 2,042 non-Hispanic whites, representing a 36% decline during the 10-year study period, 2000-10.

Analysis found the decline was limited to those 60 and older, and it was evident in both ethnic populations. The disparity between Mexican American and non-Hispanic white stroke rates in those ages 45 to 74 is unchanged.

"The dramatic decline in stroke rates during the last decade is encouraging," Morgenstern, a professor at the University of Michiganís schools of Medicine and Public Health, said in the release.

The researchers said the results emphasize the need for further interventions to prevent stroke, especially among young Mexican Americans.

Study abstract: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ana.23972/abstract.


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