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New studies on strokes.

Two recent studies have shown that blacks are at a greater risk of suffering strokes than whites or Hispanics, and that blacks who survive strokes will also suffer greater physical impairments. The studies, released last December, suggest that the disparity in strokes and recovery rates may be linked to hypertension and the lack of awareness of health issues in the black community.

The first study examined residents of mixed racial backgrounds in a New York City neighborhood. It is believed to be the first study of its type to include Hispanics. The stroke rate for black men age 40 and above was found to be 567 per 100,000 persons, as compared to 306 and 351 for Hispanics and whites, respectively. For black women, the rate was 716 per 100,000 persons, as compared with 361 for their Hispanic women and 326 for white female counterparts.

The incidence of stroke generally increased with age in all three ethnic groups. Black women had a higher stroke incidence than black men, but black men tended to have strokes at an earlier age.

The lead physician in the study, Dr. Ralph L. Sacco, assistant professor of neurology and public health at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, says black people's susceptibility to hypertension and differences in the socioeconomic status of the groups may account for some of the disparities. "Hypertension is a major problem in the African-American community and is a known risk factor for strokes," says Sacco.

The second study, conducted by a team of four physicians in Durham, N.C., concluded that ischemic strokes, which are caused by a loss of blood flow to the brain, physically impair African-Americans more severely and cause them to recover more slowly than whites. On average, after a stroke, it took blacks three to six months longer to regain similar functional ability than whites. Dr. Eonnie D. Horner, research health science specialist at Duke University Medical Center, says, "The reasons African-Americans recover at a slower rate is not clear, but it may have to do with the social support network a stroke patient may have."

Edward S. Cooper, professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and president-elect of the American Heart Association, says the higher frequency of high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes among blacks, added to their inaccessibility to health care facilities, contributes to making strokes one of the most common causes of death for blacks. Cooper advises blacks to keep their weight down, adding that, "African-Americans should [also] know their blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels."
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Title Annotation:risk for African Americans
Author:Guilford, LeGina A.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Apr 1, 1992
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