Stroke trigger more deadly for African-Americans

February 7, 2014

Infection is a stronger trigger of stroke death in African- Americans than in whites, a University of Michigan study shows.

African-Americans were 39 times more likely to die of a if they were exposed to an infection in the previous month when compared to other time periods while whites were four times more likely and Hispanics were five times more likely to die of stroke after an infection, according to the findings that appear online Feb. 7 in Neurology.

The most frequent infections were urinary, skin, and and occurred within 30 days of a stroke.

"Infection before stroke appears to be most lethal for black Americans," says lead author Deborah A. Levine, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of medicine in the division of general medicine in the U-M Medical School. "We know that African- Americans have a much greater risk of dying from a stroke than white Americans, and we wanted to know if infection – which research suggests is a stroke trigger – might contribute to this disparity."

Infection is believed to promote the formation of blood clots and fat buildup in arteries, which block the artery and stop the flow of blood to the brain causing a stroke.

Racial disparities in stroke death continue to widen in the U.S. where blacks are twice as likely to die from stroke as whites. The new findings show that all ethnic and racial groups had a higher risk of stroke following an infection but there were significant disparities in subsequent stroke deaths.

Infection appeared to be a trigger of stroke death in whites and Hispanics as well, but it was particularly potent in African-Americans.

Infection also occurred more often before stroke death in black Americans, with 70 percent experiencing an infection in the 30 days before stroke death compared to a frequency of 15 percent in months that were not followed by a stroke death. Infection occurred less often before stroke death in white Americans, with 45 percent experiencing an infection in the month before stroke death compared to a frequency of 19 percent in months that were not followed by a stroke death.

Although earlier studies suggested that respiratory infections are the most potent triggers of stroke, Levine and colleagues found that and skin infections seemed to be just as strong of triggers.

The study was based on data from the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally-representative sample of older Americans that is conducted by the U-M Institute for Social Research on behalf of the National Institute of Aging.

"Because of the higher stroke mortality rate among black Americans, there has been much attention on racial differences in vascular risk factors, like hypertension, and health behaviors but less attention on acute exposures that might contribute to in stroke deaths," Levine says.

"It is unclear why is more common, more lethal, or a more powerful trigger for stroke death in black Americans. Genetic risks, clinical, economic or environmental factors, and differences in access to health care are potential reasons. We need further studies to better understand this disparity so we can prevent more black Americans from dying of stroke, particularly after ," Levine says.

Explore further: US stroke deaths fell 30 percent over past decade

More information: "Acute Infection Contributes to Racial Disparities in Stroke Mortality," Neurology, Feb.7, 2014.

Related Stories

US stroke deaths fell 30 percent over past decade

December 3, 2013
(HealthDay)—Stroke deaths in the United States have been dropping for more than 100 years and have declined 30 percent in the past 11 years, a new report reveals.

Women and African-Americans at higher risk of heart attack from atrial fibrillation

November 4, 2013
Doctors have known for years that atrial fibrillation (AF), or irregular heartbeat, increases the risk for stroke, but now researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have shown that it also increases the risk for heart ...

US stroke deaths declining due to improved prevention, treatment

December 5, 2013
Stroke deaths in the United States have declined dramatically in recent decades due to improved treatment and prevention, according to a scientific statement published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.

Risk of death from ischemic stroke appears to have decreased in US black children

June 24, 2013
The excess risk of death from ischemic (due to reduced blood flow), but not hemorrhagic (due to bleeding), stroke in US black children has decreased over the past decade, according to a study by Laura L. Lehman, M.D., of ...

Stroke declines dramatically, still higher in Mexican Americans

August 13, 2013
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 ...

Small lifestyle changes may have big impact on reducing stroke risk

June 6, 2013
Making small lifestyle changes could reduce your risk of having a stroke, according to a new study in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.

Recommended for you

Use of brain-computer interface, virtual avatar could help people with gait disabilities

August 23, 2017
Researchers from the University of Houston have shown for the first time that the use of a brain-computer interface augmented with a virtual walking avatar can control gait, suggesting the protocol may help patients recover ...

Researcher working to develop new tool for non-invasive neuromodulation of human brain

August 23, 2017
A UTA researcher is developing a technology that will map and image the effects of infrared light shone on the human brain that may be able to modulate and improve brain waves and circuits at certain spots in the brain.

Physicist reports binary marker of preclinical and clinical Alzheimer's disease

August 23, 2017
A new technique shows high potential for providing a discrete, non-invasive biomarker of Alzheimer's disease (AD) at the individual level during both preclinical and clinical stages. The proposed biomarker has a large effect ...

Firing of neurons changes the cells that insulate them

August 22, 2017
Through their pattern of firing, neurons influence the behavior of the cells that upon maturation will provide insulation of neuronal axons, according to a new study publishing 22 August in the open access journal PLOS Biology ...

Activating brain region creates intense desire to use cocaine

August 22, 2017
Researchers have identified a portion of the brain that intensifies one's desire for certain rewards—in this case, mimicking addiction to cocaine.

Brain region mediates pleasure of eating

August 22, 2017
Providing the body with food is essential for survival. But even when full, we can still take pleasure in eating. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried and the Friedrich Miescher Institute ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.