Stroke rates high in Mexican Americans

Mexican Americans have about a 20 percent higher incidence of stroke than non-Hispanic whites, the American Heart Association reported in its Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics — 2005 Update released today. The 2005 Update compiles statistics for the most recent year for which data are available. Most of the information on Mexican Americans and stroke comes from the Brain Attack Surveillance in Corpus Christi Project. About 168 of every 10,000 Mexican Americans had a stroke from 2000 — 2002, compared to 136 of 10,000 non-Hispanic whites. After adjusting for age, Mexican Americans have a higher incidence of intracerebral hemorrhage and subarachnoid hemorrhage than non-Hispanic whites. Mexican Americans also have an increased incidence of ischemic stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA) at younger ages when compared with non-Hispanic whites.

“These are the first stroke incidence data for Mexican Americans, one of the largest minority populations in the United States,” said Virginia Howard, MSPH. She is an assistant professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and chair of the American Heart Association’s stroke statistics subcommittee.

The overall stroke death rate for all race-ethnic groups was 56.2 per 100,000 in 2002. For whites, the death rate was 54.5 for women and 56.5 for men; for blacks, 73.7 for women, and — most alarming — 85.4 for men. Among Hispanics, the death rate was 40 per 100,000 for 1999 (the most recent data available).

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Each year about 700,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke. In adults over age 55, the lifetime risk for stroke is greater than one in six people.

Blood pressure is a powerful determinant of stroke risk, according to the Update. People with blood pressure less than 120/80 mm Hg have about half the lifetime risk of stroke of those with high blood pressure (greater than 140/90 mm Hg). Between one-quarter and one-third of Mexican Americans in the United States have high blood pressure, yet this group’s level of blood pressure awareness, treatment and control is lower than that of non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic blacks according to the 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

“Prevention strategies must be targeted for each segment of the population,” Howard said.

From American Heart Association

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