A new study released this week revealed that, among most stroke patients that were admitted into hospitals from 2004 to 2014, the majority of patients showed one or more preventable health conditions that were considered risk factors for fatal strokes. High cholesterol, diabetes, smoking cigarettes, and drug use increase the risk of strokes in patients.
The majority of risk factors that can lead to potential stroke are ones that can be reduced through lifestyle changes. However, despite this, the study revealed that there had been an increase in the number of stroke patients, according to neurologist and author of the study Dr. Fadar Oliver Otite of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine:
“An estimated 80 percent of all first strokes are due to risk factors that can be changed — such as high blood pressure — and many efforts have been made to prevent, screen for and treat these risk factors. Yet we saw a widespread increase in the number of stroke patients with one or more risk factors.”
The study analyzed data from 900,000 people who were admitted to hospitals across the United States.
The most surprising observations that were pulled from the study were that stroke risks are rising among younger people, most likely connected to the opiod epidemic. There was a doubled increase of drug abuse among stroke patients from 2004 to 2014.
Another surprising revelation was the high rates of stroke patients with diabetes in the Hispanic community as well as the African American community. About 50% of Hispanic patients had diabetes and about 44% of African American patients had diabetes. These findings tell us that more focus needs to be paid to these populations, but that we should also carefully observe the other factors that might be contributing to these high rates.
The study also found that the prevalence of diabetes across stroke patients of all ages and ethnicities increased by 22% In 2004, diabetes was found in 31% of stroke patients. This increased to 38% in 2014. The prevalence of high blood pressure in stroke patients also appeared to increase by 15%. In 2004, high blood pressure was found in 73% of patients and increased to 84% at the end of the study in 2014.
Although stroke-related deaths decreased during the time period of this study, noting how risk factors increased in patients during this time period is a troubling trend that should be carefully observed moving forward.