Stroke declines dramatically, still higher in Mexican Americans

A new study reports that the incidence of ischemic stroke—the most common type of stroke, caused by a clot in the blood vessels of the brain—among non-Hispanic Whites and Mexican Americans over age 60 has declined over the past decade. Most concerning, however, is that the increased relative burden of stroke comparing Mexican Americans and non-Hispanic Whites has not changed at all in the last decade. Overall, Mexican Americans suffer much more, 34%, from this disease than non-Hispanic Whites. Findings are published in Annals of Neurology, a journal of the American Neurological Association and Child Neurology Society.

Hispanic/Latinos are now 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 estimates from the January 2013 U.S. Census. Previous research found that Mexican Americans had higher rates than non-Hispanic Whites and as this population ages it raises concern for the impact on public health. In fact, experts estimate that the cost of stroke for the first half of this century in the U.S. could amount to more than $1.5 trillion dollars.

"In stroke occurs at much younger ages, often resulting in greater disability and significantly higher costs," explains lead author, Dr. Lewis B. Morgenstern from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor. "With stroke causing such a personal, family and in minorities, our study focuses on Mexican Americans—one of the largest and fastest growing segments of the U.S. population."

For the present study, researchers conducted a population-based study of stroke trends in subjects 45 years of age and older living in Corpus Christi, Texas, between January 2000 and December 2010. Two-thirds of this community 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 have lived in the U.S. an average of 52 years.

Results show occurred in 2,604 Mexican Americans and 2,042 non-Hispanic Whites, representing a 36% decline for the study period. Analysis found that the decline was limited to those 60 years of age and over and was evident in both ethnic populations. The disparity between Mexican American and non-Hispanic White stroke rates in those 45-74 years of age remained.

"The dramatic decline in stroke rates during the last decade is encouraging," concludes Dr. Morgenstern. "However, the ongoing disparity among younger patients emphasizes the need for further interventions to prevent stroke, particularly among young Mexican Americans."

More information: "Persistent Ischemic Stroke Incidence Disparities in Mexican Americans." Lewis B. Morgenstern, Melinda A. Smith, Brisa N. Sanchez, Devin L. Brown, Darin B. Zahuranec, Nelda Garcia, Kevin A. Kerber, Lesli E. Skolarus, William J Meurer James F Burke, Eric E. Adelman, Jonggyu Baek and Lynda D. Lisabeth. Annals of Neurology; Published online: August 13, 2013 DOI: 10.1002/ana.23972

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