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New Study Finds Black Patients Have Lower Survival Rates for Certain Types of Strokes

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Black people have lower mortality rates for certain types of strokes, according to a new study. 

In a recently published study, a group of researchers from a variety of medical schools, such as the Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiology Research and Information Center, found that out of the 37,790 U.S. veteran patients they looked at, Black patients had an increased risk of passing away during the first 30 days, specifically after having an intracerebral hemorrhage. 

Compared to the white patients, Black patients had an increased 3.2% risk of not surviving this type of stroke that causes bleeding in the brain tissue. According to the study, the highest risk for Black patients was about 20 days following their stroke.

While Black patients were more at risk after an intracerebral hemorrhage, Black patients fared slightly better in terms of survival when it came to acute ischemic strokes, the most common type of stroke where a clot prevents blood flow to the brain. 

“Had we combined the stroke types, we would likely not have found this difference in intracerebral hemorrhage since ischemic strokes are much more common. In our study, there were 9 times as many ischemic strokes as intracerebral hemorrhage strokes,” said Dr. Laura Tarko, one of the researchers involved in the study. “In relative terms, Black veterans had a nearly 25% increased risk for dying after a stroke, compared to white veterans.”

Hispanic patients were also found to have lower mortality rates for some strokes, particularly after subarachnoid hemorrhages. Compared to white patients, they had an increased 10.3% risk of 30-day mortality after suffering from this stroke that causes blood to move in the surrounding areas of the brain. 

According to Dr. Tarko, the idea for the study came after noticing a lack of answers when it comes to the correlation between survival rates of strokes and race and ethnicity. 

“There are still a lot of questions about which patients, based on their race or ethnicity, have worse survival after a stroke,” said Dr. Tarko. “For example, does it matter if it’s a bleeding stroke or other more common kinds of stroke in which an artery is blocked? Some specific types of stroke are much less common, especially bleeding stroke due to aneurysm rupture.”

“It is hard to study them unless you have a very large number of patients, like we do in the Veterans Health Administration system,” she added. 

While the study has limitations, such as the lack of women in the study due to their focus on veterans, professionals Dr. Karen C. Albright and Virginia J. Howard, Ph.D. praised it in an editorial, claiming that the study provides important information to increase understanding of stroke mortality and race and ethnicity among veterans.

“Compared with other studies, this has more time periods for post-stroke mortality and more race/ethnic groups,” said Dr. Howard to The Hub News. “And it is unique in its ability to focus on stroke types of ischemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke, and subarachnoid hemorrhagic stroke.”

With the study’s publication, Dr. Howard also hopes that it’ll inspire more research on the correlation between race and ethnicity and strokes. 

“Perhaps this will direct more funding to be developed and awarded along the gaps in knowledge, especially including more prospective study designs and individual pre-stroke risk factors and other characteristics of the stroke itself such as stroke severity and post-stroke risk factors,” said Dr. Howard.

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