07/16/2013 10:43 am ET

Chinese May Have Higher Stroke Risk

Chinese people may be more at risk for stroke than Caucasians, a new study suggests.

The findings, published in the journal Neurology, compared stroke rates between Chinese people living in China and Taiwan with Caucasians.

"While stroke is the second most-common cause of death worldwide, in China it is the leading cause of death and adult disability," study researcher Dr. Chung-Fen Tsai, M.D., of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, said in a statement. "The global impact of stroke in the decades ahead is predicted to be greatest in middle income countries, including China. It is important to gain a better understanding of how stroke affects different populations as we try to reduce the burden of the disease worldwide."

The study included data from 404,254 Chinese people who were part of studies from 1990 onward. Researchers identified 3,935 strokes in this group.

They also looked at stroke risk among 1,885,067 Caucasians who were involved in 10 other studies. In this group, there were 4,568 strokes.

By comparing stroke risks in the two groups, researchers found that Chinese people had a slightly higher risk, with there being 205 to 584 strokes for every 100,000 Chinese people, compared with 170 to 335 strokes for every 100,000 Caucasian people.

Researchers also found that Chinese people were more likely to experience a type of stroke called an intracerebral hemorrhage -- which is when a blood vessel rupture causes bleeding into the brain -- and were more likely to experience stroke at a younger age than Caucasians (between 66 and 70, versus 72 and 76).

Race is a known stroke risk factor; in the U.S., African Americans have the highest risk of stroke among all other races, with a doubled risk compared with Caucasians, according to the National Stroke Association.

Other known risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, diabetes, excess weight and obesity, leading a sedentary lifestyle, having diabetes or sleep apnea, smoking and having heart disease. Unchangeable risk factors aside from race include having a family history of stroke, being a man, and being age 55 and older, according to the Mayo Clinic.



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