Study found black seniors at higher risk for subsequent attack compared to whites

Health.com
February 22, 2017

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 22, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Strokes bring with them a heightened possibility of another attack, and new research suggests black patients may be at especially high risk for recurrence.

The risk of recurrent stroke was up to 50 percent higher in black seniors who'd survived a stroke compared to their white peers, according to a report to be presented Wednesday at the International Stroke Conference in Houston.

The finding "suggests that neurologists need to pay extra attention to older black Americans with regard to preventing future strokes," said Dr. Andrew Rogove, who reviewed the study. He directs stroke care at Southside Hospital, in Bay Shore, N.Y.

In the study, researchers led by Karen Albright, of the University of Alabama in Birmingham, looked at the odds of recurrence for ischemic strokes, which result from a blocked blood vessel.

According to the American Stroke Association, about 87 percent of strokes are ischemic.

In the study, Albright's team tracked outcomes for nearly 129,000 Medicare beneficiaries 65 or older. All had experienced a first stroke at some point between 1999 and 2013. The researchers tracked their health records to see what percentage went on to experience a second stroke within the following year.

The result: 11 percent of black patients had another ischemic stroke within 12 months. That's significantly more than the 8 percent observed for white stroke survivors.

Overall, Rogove's team said that, depending on the age range studied, blacks had a 24 percent to 50 percent higher risk of recurrent stroke compared to whites.

This racial "gap" was actually wider among younger patients (ages 66 to 74) compared to older ones (75 and older), the researchers said.

Dr. Ajay Misra is chair of neurosciences at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. He stressed that much was left out of the study -- risks factors such as diabetes, high cholesterol/blood pressure, smoking -- that might help explain why blacks were at higher risk than whites.

"The findings, however, are significant as they provide the fodder for investigation" into how black seniors might lower their odds for multiple strokes, he said.

Because these findings were presented at a medical meeting, they should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

There's more on minorities and stroke at the National Stroke Association.

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