Study: Native Americans facing rising risk of stroke - Albuquerque Journal

Study: Native Americans facing rising risk of stroke

When stroke treatment expert Atif Zafar, M.D., joined The University of New Mexico Department of Neurology faculty a few years ago, he decided to study the state’s unique patient population, so he started building a comprehensive stroke database.

“As we analyzed the data, the more we found that the risk factor profile, which includes high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes, was getting worse through time,” Zafar says.

It was particularly worrying, he says, that “the prevalence of these risk factors in Native Americans was going up.”

Zafar and colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic presented a report on their findings at last week’s annual meeting of the American Stroke Association. The research, which tries to gauge the extent of the problem by looking at health data from nearly 5,000 male Native American ischemic stroke patients enrolled in a national Cerner database serving 700 hospitals, should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The data, collected between 2000 and 2016, found the patients had many factors putting them at risk for stroke, including:

• High blood pressure (66.6 percent);

• Diabetes (38.8 percent);

• Coronary heart disease (23.4 percent);

• Smoking (21.6 percent);

• Heart failure (12.3 percent);

• Atrial fibrillation (10.5 percent); and

• Atrial flutter (1.4 percent)

The researchers found that all the risk factors, except diabetes, rose significantly between 2000 and 2016. What is puzzling, Zafar says, is that during the same period, primary care doctors were becoming much more proactive in urging their patients to adopt healthier lifestyles. Why would Native American health measures have declined in those years?

“We want to dig deeper into assessing why a majority of our Native American population still has a risk factor that explains their stroke,” says Zafar, an assistant professor of neurology. Further research will include more recent data and other types of stroke, he says.

“The strength of the epidemiological studies is defining what the future of the health care system will be,” Zafar says. “I’m really confident that this result will help us shape how we intervene in the Native American population from a health care standpoint.”


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

Nativo Sponsored Content

Ad Tango

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
Halyna Hutchins remembered as a gifted cinematographer
ABQnews Seeker
Ukrainian native called herself a 'restless ... Ukrainian native called herself a 'restless dreamer' and 'adrenaline junkie'
2
APS bus drivers get a pay boost amid ongoing ...
ABQnews Seeker
Board of Education OKs hiring, referral ... Board of Education OKs hiring, referral bonuses as rate reaches $18 per hour
3
City: Official not drunk in accident
ABQnews Seeker
Allegation was made by Gonzales against ... Allegation was made by Gonzales against COO in mayoral debate with Keller
4
Las Cruces educator named NM Teacher of the Year
ABQnews Seeker
Lorynn Guerrero will represent New Mexico ... Lorynn Guerrero will represent New Mexico in the national competition
5
Longtime APS athletic director Barreras steps aside
Featured Sports
Albuquerque Public Schools will be searching ... Albuquerque Public Schools will be searching for a new athletic director.Kenny Barrera ...
6
Guns on movie and television sets: How does that ...
Entertainment
Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died Thursday after ... Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died Thursday after a prop firearm that actor Alec Baldwin was holdi ...
7
Prep volleyball: No. 1 Hope Christian beats defending state ...
Featured Sports
As the state tournament draws ever ... As the state tournament draws ever nearer, it's becoming more likely that the team everyone will be ...
8
In local Korn Ferry qualifier, stress falls upon middle ...
Featured Sports
When it comes to the qualifying ... When it comes to the qualifying school of the Korn Ferry Tour for professional golfers, Scott Harrin ...
9
Gonzales: It's time for Lobo offense to step up
College
During the past two weeks, the ... During the past two weeks, the University of New Mexico (2-5, 0-3 Mountain West) has scored two touc ...