Fewer Stroke Deaths Over Past 2 Decades
Fewer Americans are having strokes and those who do have a lower risk of dying from them according to a a study led by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers and is published in the July 16th 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
A release from the university reports that the study found a 24 percent overall decline in first-time strokes in each of the last two decades and a 20 percent overall drop per decade in deaths after stroke. However, the decline in stroke risk was concentrated mainly among those over 65 with little progress in reducing the risk of strokes among young people. In contrast, the drop in stroke-related deaths each decade was primarily found among those under age 65, with mortality rates holding firm in older people.
The release quotes study co-author Josef Coresh, MD, PhD, a professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, as saying, “We can congratulate ourselves that we are doing well, but stroke is still the No. 4 cause of death in the United States. This research points out the areas that need improvement. It also reminds us that there are many forces threatening to push stroke rates back up and if we don’t address them head-on, our gains may be lost.”
Coresh says he worries what the future of stroke will look like as the obesity epidemic, which began in the 1990s, matures. As millions more are diagnosed with hypertension and diabetes, which often go hand-in-hand with obesity, they will face increased risk for stroke.
For their analysis, the researchers used results from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, a prospective study of 15,792 residents of four U.S. communities who were between the ages of 45 and 64 when the study began in the late 1980s. In this analysis, they followed 14,357 participants who were free of stroke in 1987, looking specifically for all stroke hospitalizations and deaths between then and the end of 2011.
Seven percent of the study sample (1,051) had a stroke over that period. Of those, 10 percent died within 30 days, and 21 percent, 40 percent and 58 percent died within one year, five years and by the end of the study in 2011. Each decade, the number of deaths occurring within 10 years of a stroke was reduced by roughly eight deaths per 100 cases. The decrease was not across the board. Instead it was primarily the result of stroke victims under the age of 65 surviving longer. While they varied by age, the results were similar across race and gender, a finding that researchers were heartened to discover since a previous study suggested African-American stroke rates were not improving.