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Higher income reduces stroke mortality risk by a third, new study shows

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Research, presented at the 10th European Stroke Organization Conference (ESOC) 2024, has revealed that high-income individuals have a 32% lower risk of post-stroke mortality. Additionally, those with a higher education have a 26% lower risk of death post-stroke, highlighting striking disparities in stroke survival based on key social determinants of health (SDoH).

The register-based study analyzed data from 6,901 in Gothenburg, Sweden between November 2014 to December 2019 to examine the impact of SDoH factors on post-stroke risk. The study focused on four SDoH factors: living area, country of birth, education and income.

As well as identifying a significant connection between income, and post-stroke mortality risk, the study uncovered a concerning trend regarding the cumulative impact of SDoH factors. Patients with one unfavorable SDoH factor faced an 18% higher risk of mortality compared to patients without any unfavorable SDoH factors. This risk escalated to 24% for patients with two to four SDoH factors.

Lead author Professor Katharina Stibrant Sunnerhagen, University of Gothenburg, Clinical Neuroscience, Gothenburg, Sweden, comments, "Our findings underscore a stark reality—an individual's can be a matter of life or death in the context of stroke, especially when they are confronted with multiple unfavorable SDoH factors. While our study was conducted in Gothenburg, we believe these insights resonate across Europe, where similar health care structures and levels of social vulnerability exist, highlighting a pervasive issue throughout the continent."

The study also found a link between increased mortality risk and additional risk factors like physical inactivity, diabetes, alcohol abuse and atrial fibrillation.

Notably, insights emerged regarding gender disparities and the potential impact of risk factors when examining patient characteristics within the study cohort.

The proportion of female patients increased with the number of unfavorable SDoH factors; 41% of the group with no unfavorable SDoH factors were female, whereas 59% of the group with two to four unfavorable SDoH factors comprised females. Additionally, smoking, whether current or within the past year, was more prevalent in the group with two to four unfavorable SDoH factors compared to those with none (19% versus 12%).

Commenting on the actions required to reduce the future stroke burden, Professor Stibrant Sunnerhagen explains, "As the number of people affected by stroke in Europe is projected to rise by 27% between 2017 and 2047, the need for effective interventions is more pressing than ever. In light of our study's findings, targeted strategies are essential.

"Policymakers, for instance, must tailor legislation and approaches to account for the specific circumstances and needs of diverse communities, while clinicians should consider identifying patients with unfavorable SDoH factors to prevent post-stroke mortality.

"By addressing these disparities, we will not only support the principles of health equity, but also have the potential to significantly enhance public health outcomes."

More information: Stibrant Sunnerhagem, K., et al. A register-based study on associations between stroke mortality and risk factors including social determinants of health. Presented at the European Stroke Organisation Conference; 15 May 2024; Basel, Switzerland.

Provided by European Stroke Organisation
Citation: Higher income reduces stroke mortality risk by a third, new study shows (2024, May 15) retrieved 28 May 2024 from
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