Recent research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham published in the journal Neurology® provides significant insights into stroke risk. More American blacks have strokes and die from them than whites in the US.
However after studying nearly 25,000 people, the researchers discovered that stroke risk correlated with the socioeconomic status of the neighborhoods that the subjects lived in regardless of their race.
Major risks for stroke include smoking, diabetes, and hypertension. Residents of lower-income neighborhoods were more likely to have behavioral patterns that correlate with strokes such as physical inactivity and smoking.
The data for this analysis came from a large study known as REGARDS that randomly sampled people across the country and comprised about half white and half black. Participants averaged 65 years of age and had not had a stroke.
The researchers divided the subjects into four groups based on the wealth of the neighborhood they lived in: high, upper-middle, middle, and low individual wealth. Six factors determined whether a neighborhood counted as high or low wealth. These included the value of the housing units and the proportion of people employed in professional occupations.
During the 7.5-year period of the study, 929 people had a stroke. The analysis of this data showed that participants that lived in poorer neighborhoods were more likely to have a stroke no matter what their race.
This study is novel because of its analysis of neighborhood advantage and its breadth. The researchers examined people from 1,833 rural and rural counties including a large number of both whites and blacks. They measured stroke risk factors before the people had their strokes.