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More Smoking, Heart Woes Boost Native Americans' Stroke Risk

THURSDAY, Jan. 31, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Stroke risk factors are on the rise among Native Americans, a new study reveals.

Previous research has shown that Native Americans have a higher rate of stroke than other racial groups in the United States.

"It was alarming to find a significant increase in modifiable risk factors, like smoking and high blood pressure," said study author Dr. Dinesh Jillella. He is a vascular neurology fellow at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

"Clinicians should aggressively target modifiable stroke risk factors in the Native American population," Jillella said in a news release from the American Stroke Association.

"All of us need to be aware of risk factors like high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes that can lead to stroke," he added. "Identifying increases in risk factors in ethnic groups with health and socioeconomic disparities can help us target these risks to reduce the stroke burden going forward."

In the study, the investigators used data from 700 hospitals nationwide to identify more than 4,700 Native Americans who had an ischemic (clot-caused) stroke between 2000 and 2016.

The patients had high rates of stroke risk factors, including: high blood pressure (67 percent); diabetes (39 percent); coronary heart disease (23 percent); smoking (22 percent); heart failure (12 percent); atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat (10.5 percent); and atrial flutter, an abnormally fast heartbeat (1.4 percent).

Further analysis revealed a significant rise in all the risk factors, except for diabetes, between 2000 and 2016.

The report is scheduled for presentation Feb. 7 at the American Stroke Association annual meeting in Honolulu. Such research should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The researchers are now comparing rates of stroke risk factors in Native American stroke survivors with those from other racial groups who have a lower incidence of stroke.

In addition, the investigators are also examining the rates of stroke risk factors among Native Americans who suffer a bleeding (hemorrhagic) stroke.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more on stroke risk factors and symptoms.

SOURCE: American Stroke Association, news release, Jan. 30, 2019

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