The rate of second strokes among Mexican Americans has declined steeply since the turn of the century, a new study finds.
Between 2000 and 2013, the rate of recurrent stroke fell faster in Mexican Americans than in white people. By 2013, there was no difference between the two groups.
“Throughout this long-term study, this is the first time that we have encountered an improvement in any major marker of ethnic stroke disparities,” said lead author Dr. Lewis Morgenstern, a professor of neurology and epidemiology at the University of Michigan.
“These results suggest that stroke recurrence continues to decline in both populations, but faster in Mexican Americans, perhaps because their rates were so high to begin with,” Morgenstern added.
The study included more than 3,570 Mexican Americans and white Americans, at least age 45, in Nueces County, Texas, who suffered a first stroke between early 2000 and the end of 2013. Nearly all were second- and third-generation U.S. citizens.
They were followed to identify stroke recurrence one and two years after their first stroke. After one year, recurrent strokes had occurred in 206 patients, and 683 died before a stroke recurrence. After two years, 293 patients had recurrent strokes, and there had been 883 deaths before another stroke.
Among Mexican American people, incidence of one-year stroke recurrence was 9.2% in 2000, but that fell to 3.4% in 2013. Among white people, incidence of one-year recurrence was 5.6% in 2000 and 3.5% in 2013.
Despite the decrease in recurrent stroke among Mexican Americans, their death rate from stroke remained steady, according to the study. The results were published July 16 in the journal Stroke.
“Individuals should work to reduce their chance of having a stroke by following national healthy living guidelines such as the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7,” Morgenstern said in a journal news release.
Mexican Americans account for 63% of Hispanic Americans, the largest U.S. minority population. The percentage of Hispanic Americans older than 65 is expected to climb to about 16% by 2040. This population will be at high risk for stroke and stroke recurrence, making secondary stroke prevention crucial, the researchers noted.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more on stroke.