03/19/2014 12:23 pm ET Updated Mar 19, 2014

Mexican-Americans Fare Worse After A Stroke, Study Finds

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According to the Office of Minority Health (OMH), Hispanics are less likely to die from a stroke should one occur, but before you start celebrating with an ice cold beer and some enchiladas we’ve got news if you’re Mexican-American.

Hispanics have similar stroke rates compared to non-Hispanic whites, and even though that news sounds positive, Mexican-Americans may want to consider some new information from the Brain Attack Surveillance in Corpus Christi (BASIC) project. According to the new research, Mexican-Americans fare worse than non-Hispanic whites when it comes to neurologic, functional and cognitive outcomes 90 days after a stroke.

“What we found most notable was the difference in functional outcome,” stated Dr. Lynda Lisabeth in a press release , the study’s lead author. “Mexican-Americans did worse on all the measures of daily living activities compared to non-Hispanic whites.”

For the study, experts gave each study participant a daily living score based on criteria such as walking, bathing, grooming, eating, dressing, moving and toileting. Based on the responses to to a battery of questions, researchers were able to see patterns in groups suggesting functional impairment among Mexican-Americans after a stroke was substantial.

“This study provides the first piece of information on the prognosis of Mexican-American stroke survivors,” Lisabeth said. “The clinical and public health information we discovered is important for future research in stroke prevention and rehabilitation in stroke survivors. We don’t yet have a complete picture of recovery for Mexican-Americans and what potential intervention strategies can improve their recovery.”

Highlights of the report indicated:

  • Mexican-Americans had moderate functional disability and nearly one-third had post-stroke dementia.
  • Mexican-Americans had a 48 percent worse neurologic outcome score compared to non-Hispanic whites on the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale.
  • Mexican-Americans scored worse on language dysfunction and several other items from the language scale.
  • Mexican-Americans had worse cognitive outcome on the Modified Mini-Mental State Examination.

The study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, indicates more needs to be done for Mexican-Americans during the stroke recovery process; however, it is not entirely clear why the disparity exists. Researchers indicate there are likely genetic factors, lifestyle factors and quality of care factors that combine to create the functional care results seen.

The OMH indicates obesity, smoking and high cholesterol are all lifestyle factors that put Mexican-Americans–and all Hispanics–at an increased risk for stroke. Taking appropriate steps to counter these risk factors cannot only improve the stroke risk for Mexican-Americans, but can also reduce their risk for a number of other chronic diseases and their complications.

Originally published on VOXXI as What happens when Mexican-Americans have a stroke



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