Stroke risk factors on rise in Native Americans

Preliminary research released by the American Heart Association in Dallas on Jan. 30 says stroke risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and smoking are common and on the rise among Native Americans with clot-caused stroke.

It has previously been reported that Native American have a higher incidence of stroke than other racial groups in the United States. In this study, researchers used the Cerner nationwide database of electronic health records from 700 hospitals to identify 4,729 Native Americans (46 percent male) diagnosed with clot-caused stroke between 2000 and 2016.

“All of us need to be aware of risk factors like high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes that can lead to stroke,” said Dr. Dinesh V. Jillella, lead author of the study and a vascular neurology fellow at Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio. “Identifying increases in risk factors in ethnic groups with health ad socioeconomic disparities can help us target these risks to reduce the stroke burden going forward.”

Risk factors common in those with stroke include high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary heart disease, smoking, heart failure, atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat) and atrial flutter (an abnormally fast heartbeat).

When researchers analyzed changes in risk factors over time, they found that all risk factors except for diabetes rose significantly between 2000 and 2016.

Researchers are currently comparing how common these risk factors are in Native American stroke survivors with those from other racial groups with a lower incidence of stroke and analyzing the prevalence of risk factors in Native Americans with hemorrhagic or bleeding strokes.

The project, funded by the University of New Mexico’s department of neurology, was reported at EurekAlert, the online website of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The preliminary research was to be presented in Honolulu at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2019.