Chinese People At Higher Risk Of Stroke Than Whites
July 16, 2013

Chinese People At Higher Risk Of Stroke Than Whites

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

A new international study published in the journal Neurology has found that Chinese individuals are more likely than whites to suffer a stroke.

The study researchers from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and Cardinal Tien Hospital in Taiwan included data gathered since 1990 on over 400,000 Chinese people living in China and Taiwan. They also referenced 10 community-based studies that included 1.8 million Caucasians.

"While stroke is the second most-common cause of death worldwide, in China it is the leading cause of death and adult disability," said study author Dr. Chung-Fen Tsai, a neuroscientist with the University of Edinburgh. "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 research team found almost 4,000 strokes in their Chinese cohort, yet only 4,600 strokes in their Caucasian group, which was over four times as large. The researchers also found that the Chinese people had a higher risk of a certain kind of stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage, and a younger average age of stroke, 66 to 70 years old, as opposed to 72 to 76 years old for Caucasians.

Previous research has shown that ethnicity, not nationality, is a factor in stroke risk. According to the National Stroke Association, African Americans have the highest stroke risk of any ethnicity and double that of whites.

Another large international study, found that many of those who do suffer an initial stroke do not change their behavior in favor of quitting smoking, physical exercise or a preventative diet.

Published in JAMA, the international study, which included over 150,000 individuals, found many patients in high, middle and low-income countries who did not change their habits after suffering a life-threatening event.

"People who had heart disease or stroke, about a fifth of them, still continued to smoke and only a third of people had regular physical activities," the study's co-author Koon Teo, an epidemiologist at Canada's McMaster University, told Voice of America. "Just about two-fifths of them ate what we determine as a healthy diet."

"The low-income countries had the worst diet, but if you look at people from high income countries, they did not do that much better," Koon Teo said.

About 4 percent of patients in the study followed doctors' orders, the researchers said.

"All countries need to look at this finding to try to improve and close the gap about healthy living, particularly in people who had already had the stroke or a heart attack," Koon Teo said

Lifestyle-influenced factors that lead to stroke include high blood pressure, diabetes, excess weight, a lack of physical activity, diabetes, sleep apnea, smoking and heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends physical activity for anyone who has suffered a stroke to improve heart function, reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure and improve resting heart rate.