Strokes, the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, are on the decline, according to a recent study published in July 16 issue of JAMA.
Using data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study, which began in the late 1980s and involved nearly 16,000 individuals, researchers analyzed data for 14,357 participants who were stroke-free in 1987, focusing on hospitalizations for stroke or deaths through 2011.
The study found that first-time strokes declined by 24 percent in each of the past two decades. Investigators reported a 20 percent decrease in deaths from stroke during that period. They found that adults older than 65 years of age drove the decline in stroke rates, whereas individuals aged under 65 years fueled the decline in stroke deaths.
“The more concerning news is the lack of decline [in stroke rates] among those under 65,” Ralph Sacco, MD, chairman of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said in an article. He and colleague Chuanhui Dong, MD, PhD, wrote a commentary about the study that also appears in JAMA. “When you look at that statistic in relationship to recent warnings that diabetes, obesity and lack of physical activity are still major problems that have not been reduced…raises some red flags," Sacco added.
The study authors note that these favorable trends can be credited, in part, to better vascular control and improvements in treating stroke at many institutions, including stroke centers.