African-American women at
increased risk for stroke
groundbreaking study conducted by researchers at the U.Va. Health
System has found that African-American women have alarmingly
high rates of stroke risk factors, exceeding those of African-American
men. The study is reported in the April issue of Stroke.
researchers found that African-American women exercise less and
have higher rates of hypertension, diabetes and obesity than African-American
men. Prior to this study, researchers and physicians had little
data regarding risk factors associated with stroke in the African-American
population especially among women, for whom it is the third-leading
cause of death.
research clearly shows that African-American men and women are
different, so we should be tailoring stroke prevention strategies
based on sex, said Karen Johnston, assistant professor of
neurology and the studys principal investigator.
data presented were generated from a multi-center study focusing
on a subgroup of 1,087 stroke victims. This subgroup was selected
from the larger African-American Antiplatelet Stroke Prevention
Study, led by Philip B. Gorelick at Rush Medical College in Chicago.
participants were enrolled within seven to 90 days following non-cardioembolic
stroke. Johnston and Bradford Worrall, lead author of the paper
and instructor of clinical neurology at U.Va., focused on clinically
relevant risk factors associated with stroke, including hypertension,
diabetes, high cholesterol, family history of stroke, lack of
leisure exercise, obesity and cigarette use. They used the Federal
Obesity Clinical Guidelines to define overweight and obese subjects.
Lack of leisure exercise was defined as not exercising at least
twice a week vigorously enough to work up a sweat. Data on cigarette
use and family history of stroke were obtained by survey. Hypertension
and diabetes data were collected from the patients medical
records, as well as by physical examination during their enrollment
in the study.
Johnston and Worrall emphasized that most of the risk factors
profiled are modifiable and said they hope this study will help
educate the African-American population and their healthcare teams
on stroke prevention.
large number of risk factors examined provides doctors and researchers
with much-needed data and also opens the door for more research
on individuals with multiple stroke risk factors.
hypothesize that having multiple risk factors for stroke increases
the risk by much more than would be expected, Worrall said.
If we are correct, that finding could have major implications
in assessing individual risk and developing individualized prevention