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Barriers to Healthcare Are to Blame
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By Susan M. Callahan, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
February 22, 2008, Last Updated June 13, 2011
The American Stroke Association today announced that a
comprehensive study of Americans and Europeans has
shown that Americans face significantly higher risk of death
from stroke than Europeans. Different health risk factors
and barriers to health care explain the difference.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2008, the
last year for which data is available, stroke ranked as the
4th leading cause of death for Americans, having caused
133,750 deaths that year.
The key health risk factor for stroke stems from our diets.
Europeans, especially those in southern Europe, simply eat
"Southern Mediterranean countries
have a diet rich in vegetables,fruits and fish and lower in
fats,which partly explains why heart disease is so much
lowerin these populations than innorthern Europe and the
United States,”the study's author, Dr. Avenido said.
The study's results are consistent withstudies which have
linked inflammation inside your body to increased risk of
stroke and heart disease.
Read the Full Press Release Below
Stroke more prevalent in United
States than in Europe
NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 22 – American
adults have a higher prevalence of
stroke than their European counterparts,
due in part to a higher rate of stroke risk
factors among Americans and barriers
to care in the United States, according
to a study presented at the American
Stroke Association’s International
Stroke Conference 2008.
Compared to European men, U.S. men had 61 percent
higher odds of having a stroke and U.S. women had almost
twice the odds of stroke as European women.
“Most of this gap is among relatively poor Americans who
were, in our data, much more likely to have a stroke than
poor Europeans, whereas the gap in stroke prevalence is
less marked between rich Americans and rich Europeans,”
said Mauricio Avendano, Ph.D., author of the study.
The study is based on 2004 data from the U.S. Health and
Retirement Survey (HRS); the Survey of Health, Aging and
Retirement in Europe (SHARE); and the English
Longitudinal study of Aging (ELSA). These surveys
include biennial interviews among people age 50 years and
“The strength of these surveys is that the questionnaires
were explicitly designed to be fully comparable across all
countries, and the samples were drawn to be
representative of the entire population in each country,”
said Avendano, a research fellow in public health at the
Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
“The limitation is that we’re dealing with self-reports of a
doctor’s diagnosis of stroke, not the diagnostic data itself.”
Researchers studied data on 13,667 people in the United
States and 30,120 individuals in 11 European countries.
The analysis included stroke occurrence, socioeconomic
status, and major risk factors for stroke including obesity,
diabetes, smoking, physical activity and alcohol
consumption, which can differ largely across countries.
Overall, women were about one-quarter less likely to have
a stroke, on average, than men.
“Many risk factors for stroke, including blood pressure and
smoking, have generally increased among women but
remained stable among men,” Avendano said. “This may
explain why the gap in stroke prevalence between men and
women is less marked than before. In fact, in some age
groups and populations such as France, women may have
higher prevalence of stroke than men.”
The age-adjusted prevalence rate of stroke varied
considerably across countries. It was highest in the United
States and lowest in the southern Mediterranean European
countries of Spain, Italy and Greece, as well as Switzerland.
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|Legendary saxophonist and Springsteen
band member Clarence Clemons suffered
a stroke in June 2011 at the age of 69.