Asian American Medical Hazard: Stroke

My doctor has always considered my high blood pressure to be a significant concern, and she makes sure I am managing it effectively.  After thinking about the Asian Americans that I know who have had a stroke and this recent report and video, I should really be thankful.  Preliminary results from an analysis of 1.7 million stroke cases between 2004 and 2016 reveal that Asian Americans are more likely to have more severe ischemic strokes and worse outcomes than whites.   In addition, Asian Americans studied were less likely to receive clot busting stroke treatment, although this difference seems to diminish during the studied time period. Study lead author Dr. Sarah Song, who revealed the initial results at the American Stroke Association International Stroke Conference, said:

“Asian Americans may have a distinctive pathophysiologic profile of ischemic stroke than whites.   Regardless, this study highlights the need for more focused research, improved stroke prevention and possibly different treatment strategies for Asian Americans.”

In the video, Dr. Song mentions Asian Americans and diabetes, which is a major  risk factor for stroke.  As we have mentioned a number of times on 8Asians, Asian Americans have a higher risk for diabetes than whites.  Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is another known risk factor for stroke, and I know many Asian Americans other than myself who have this condition.

I do wonder how much different Song’s study is compared to another paper that points out that Asian Americans have a higher risk of hypertension and strokes.  This 2014 paper mentioned that while non-Hispanic whites have a higher overall mortality rate, Asian Indian men and women and Filipino men have a much higher mortality rate from ischemic heart disease, and all Asian American groups have a higher mortality rate from hypertensive heart disease and cerebrovascular disease, especially hemorrhagic stroke, than non-Hispanic whites.  I really wanted to read the actual paper, but I couldn’t find it.  I would speculate that because the results are labeled preliminary and that she has other data analysis that she and her team want to do before publishing the final paper.

In the video above, Annie Phillips mentions that people shouldn’t ignore their symptoms.  The Wife points out the FAST acronym for stroke symptoms:

  • F:  Face Drooping
  • A:  Arm Weakness
  • S:  Slurred Speech
  • T:  Time to call 911.

Prompt medical treatment for a stroke can result reduce the chance of long term disability.

What’s also important is that people not ignore their doctor when they have conditions like hypertension, which doesn’t always manifest symptoms that you notice. I know one Asian American woman who stopped taking her blood pressure medication because she felt fine and then had a stroke after that.  The Wife knows many others like that. Commentary attached to the study’s press release mentioned that a key take away is that there are modifiable risk factors that can be managed to prevent stroke. Says Dr. Phillip Gorelick, American Stroke Association spokesperson and Medical School Professor:

“It may take a while, but again, it’s really important to treat modifiable risk factors, especially hypertension in the Asian-American community.”

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About Jeff

Jeff lives in Silicon Valley, and attempts to juggle marriage, fatherhood, computer systems research, running, and writing.
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