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Study: Stroke Rates Declining

Stroke rates and death from strokes are falling, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The study followed 4 U.S. communities closely for a period of more than 2 decades.

According to a summary of the study:

"Stroke affects an estimated 795 000 Americans each year, remains the fourth leading cause of death, and is the main cause of adult disability in the United States. Worldwide, stroke ranks as the second leading cause of death, responsible for 9.5% of total deaths each year, with a greater burden in developing countries. 

"Over the past decade, overall stroke mortality has declined, primarily in western countries. Moreover, several studies have documented a decrease in stroke incidence rates.These favorable trends are likely due to better vascular risk factor control and improvements in acute stroke treatment at many institutions, including specialized stroke centers. In the United States, however, there are persistent racial, ethnic, sex, and regional disparities in age-adjusted stroke mortality rates, and long-term temporal trend data on validated stroke incidence by race and ethnicity are scarce."

What does this mean? An article published by USA Today explains a few of the key findings and implications:

  • The study followed 15,792 people ages 45 to 64 from 1987 to 2011.
  • Study participants came from Jackson, Miss.; Washington County, Md.; Forsyth County, N.C.; and Minneapolis.
  • During those 24 years of the study, 7% of participants had a first stroke and 58% of those people eventually died.
  • Over each decade, the rates of stroke and death fell, by about 24% and 20%, respectively.
  • While overall stroke rates and deaths from stroke declined, this was not true for people under age 65. Preventing strokes in younger people is a topic that warrants further research.
  • Possible explanations for declining strokes rates could be better control of blood pressure and cholesterol, less smoking and better medical care after strokes.
  • Generally, blacks are at higher risk of stroke than whites. Scientists are concerned that improvements seen in blacks in the study, who came primarily from Forsyth County and Jackson, might not be seen nationwide.

The study is part of a large, ongoing research effort to understand what causes strokes and resulting deaths.


By - by Emily Wilson - Published On: Jul 16, 2014