Mexican-Americans With Heart Rhythm Disorder Have Increased Risk for Second Stroke

physorg.com, September 9, 2010

Mexican-American stroke survivors with a heart rhythm disorder have more than twice the risk for another stroke compared to non-Hispanic whites, according to a study published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Mexican-Americans’ recurrent strokes are also more likely to be severe, though they don’t have a greater risk of death after stroke, researchers said.

Researchers compared 88 Mexican-American and 148 non-Hispanic white stroke survivors who had atrial fibrillation, a disorder in which the heart’s upper chambers (called the atria) beat irregularly and don’t pump blood effectively, possibly causing blood to pool within the atria and blood clot formation in the heart.

They found that the likelihood of suffering another stroke during the study follow-up period was more than double for Mexican-Americans than for non-Hispanic whites. Although stroke recurrence was higher and strokes were more severe among Mexican-Americans, death rates didn’t differ between the two groups.

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The study also showed that Mexican-American patients were younger, less likely to have completed 12 years of education, more likely to have diabetes, and less likely to have a primary care physician. Researchers found no ethnic differences between the two groups in the severity of the first stroke.

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One reason for the difference could be that the management of warfarin–a blood thinning drug–among Mexican-Americans may not be optimal, Zahuranec said. However, the study found no ethnic difference in the proportion of patients who were prescribed warfarin at hospital discharge. They did not evaluate data looking at outpatient use of warfarin after hospital discharge which might have contributed to the increased risk of stroke in Mexican-Americans.

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[“Mexican Americans With Atrial Fibrillation Have More Recurrent Strokes Than Do Non-Hispanic Whites” can be downloaded as a PDF file here. There is a charge.]

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