Racial Disparities in Stroke Treatment Revealed in New AHA Report
Black and Hispanic stroke survivors in the United States are less likely to receive treatment for stroke complications, according to a new report from the American Heart Association (AHA). Dixon Yang, M.D., lead author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, New York City, said: “Despite major advances in stroke care, stroke continues to be a significant problem, and some people will remain at risk despite optimal medical treatment. An unhealthy diet negatively impacts blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol levels that increases the risk of stroke. Independent of one’s own demographics or socioeconomic status, living in a neighborhood with an abundance of poor food choices may be an important factor to consider for many people.”
These areas are dubbed “food swamps”, where restaurants and shops selling an abundance of high-calorie, low-nutrient meals and snacks line the streets and are often found in food deserts, where access to grocery stores and fresh produce is difficult. The participants' health data was used to create an enlarged retail food environment index, which was then applied by the researchers. Unhealthy food options such as convenience stores, fast-food and full-service restaurants were included in the retail food environment index, while healthy food retailers like grocery stores, farmer’s markets and specialized food stores were also taken into account.
Researchers utilized the American Community Survey of the Census Bureau to evaluate neighborhoods. This survey contained information on income, educational attainment, poverty levels, and more, divided by ZIP code. The researchers divided the ZIP codes into three groups: low, medium, and high levels of deprivation.
Additionally, researchers identified a lifestyle-related metabolite biomarker called gluconic acid that is associated with high blood pressure, increased risk of ischemic stroke, eating a Southern diet, lower level of education and lack of exercise, among Black adults.
New research has revealed disparities in relation to wealth and health, indicating that a genetic score may be able to determine a higher stroke risk for individuals living in more affluent neighborhoods.
Dr. Kent Simmonds of UT Southwestern Medical Center, the lead study author, said: “A constellation of symptoms may manifest after a stroke; however, not all complications are life-threatening events. Some complications may be more subtle and go undetected by the medical community and, as a result, people from different racial or ethnic groups may not receive equitable treatment.
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