Health News: Black and Hispanic People More Likely to Die from Certain Types of Strokes

According to a new study, Black and Hispanic veterans in the United States have a higher chance of dying in the first month after specific forms of stroke than white veterans.

Over 37,000 veterans’ medical records were examined by researchers.
Stroke is one of the most common causes of death in the United States.
According to a new study, black and Hispanic U.S. veterans are more likely than white veterans to die within the first 30 days after specific forms of stroke.

However, with other types of stroke and at different times after a stroke, these groups have lower fatality rates than whites.

The study, which was published on June 1 in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, gives revised estimates of veteran mortality rates following a stroke.

It also includes data on mortality rates following various types of strokes and among various racial and ethnic groupings.

Dr. Erica Jones, an assistant professor of neurology at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas who was not involved in the new study, stated, “Research on stroke patients has demonstrated discrepancies in stroke outcomes for persons of color for decades.”

“The findings of this [latest study] show that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all strategy to prognostication,” she added. “Race is one of many variables that must be addressed in determining how patients will recover and survive following strokes.”

According to Jones’ research, Black and Latino people had a worse chance of making a good functional recovery following a stroke.

Some demographics have higher death rates following a stroke.
Researchers looked at the health records of more than 37,000 veterans who were admitted to a Veterans Health Administration facility for a stroke between 2002 and 2012.

Individuals’ race and ethnicity, the type of stroke they had, and which patients died throughout the study period were all gathered by the researchers.

They also looked at age, sex, smoking, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as other factors that could increase the chance of death following a stroke.

The majority of strokes (89 percent) were ischemic, meaning they were caused by a blood clot. The rest were caused by hemorrhagic strokes, which are caused by blood clots in the brain. There were two forms of hemorrhagic strokes reported.

Researchers discovered that black patients had a 3% higher risk of dying during the first 30 days after an intracerebral hemorrhage stroke than white patients.

This increased risk was most noticeable in Black people within the first 20 days after a stroke.

Furthermore, Hispanic patients had a 10% higher chance of dying within 30 days of a subarachnoid hemorrhage stroke than white patients.

After an acute ischemic stroke, however, Black and Hispanic patients exhibited lower fatality rates than white patients for particular time periods.

However, the study contains a number of flaws that will need to be addressed in future studies.

One is that almost all of the patients were men, therefore the findings may not be applicable to women. Furthermore, researchers were unable to account for the severity of the stroke, which can influence a person’s chance of death.

Due to the small number of patients in these groups, researchers had to omit Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Asian American veterans from their study.

Stroke results aren’t the only thing that causes health inequities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke is the greatest cause of death in the United States, with an American dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.

In addition, the CDC reports that Black Americans are nearly twice as likely as whites to suffer their first stroke. Stroke is also the leading cause of death among black people.

Stroke fatality rates have also risen among Hispanics over the last decade, according to the organization.

Dr. Karen C. Albright and Virginia J. Howard, PhD, wrote in an accompanying editorial that the new study “does much to increase our understanding of racial and ethnic variations in stroke mortality among Veterans.”

They highlight the study’s merits, such as the huge number of patients

involved, the breakdown of death by stroke type and race/ethnicity, and the fact that patients were followed for more than a year after their stroke.

“In this study, longer follow-up periods may allow doctors to offer patients and families with a better knowledge of the likelihood of surviving to their next key life event,” they said.

Albright and Howard, on the other hand, believe that one crucial question that has to be answered is how the findings of this study may be used to help health providers discuss with patients and families their possibilities of recovery after a stroke in the short and long term.

Although the current study sheds more light on stroke outcomes for various demographics, Jones believes the findings raise more concerns than they address.

“The fact that some groups continuously perform worse than others should raise concerns that these differences are due to systemic difficulties,” she said.

“As a healthcare community, we must ask ourselves how we contribute to these discrepancies and what role we might play in addressing them,” she continued.

The new study, according to Kenneth Campbell, DBE, MPH, program director of Tulane University’s online Master of Health Administration program and assistant professor in the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, shows that more work is needed to reduce disparities in stroke and other health outcomes.

“Studies have consistently indicated inverse and progressive links between class and minorities’ untimely death,” Campbell added. “In addition, there are significant variations in health outcomes between individuals with and without wealth.”

More study on solutions to inequalities is required.

Additional research is needed, according to the authors of the current paper, on stroke mortality rates in other racial and ethnic groups, as well as how often life-sustaining medicines are employed after a stroke in different populations.

According to Jones, further research is needed to determine the elements that lead to racial/ethnic variations in stroke outcomes, such as social and economic issues.

These elements, often known as social determinants of health, include access to a good education, well-paying jobs, nutritious food, and healthcare.

While new studies like this one help to better understand the health disparities that specific populations confront, more study is needed to identify solutions that work for all communities.

“We need to move away from just identifying these inequalities in stroke outcomes and toward developing effective measures to prevent them,” Jones added.

She went on to say that physicians and academics should collaborate with patients and Black and Latino communities to find strategies to close the inequalities in stroke care.

Although there will be no quick resolution for stroke-related health inequities, Jones is heartened by progress that has already been made in some areas.

“The healthcare community must invest in changing how care is delivered to these populations today to prevent inequities from negatively harming more people in the future,” she said.

Campbell agrees, noting that “executive leadership in healthcare organizations must seek to decrease obstacles for all and build the internal infrastructure needed to create more equitable access.”

In addition, he stated, these organizations must “assist patients in dealing with social determinants of health, as well as remove systemic racism and racist practices embedded in the US healthcare business.”