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Stroke recovery rates slower for African Americans

African Americans are more likely to suffer strokes and recover from them at a slower rate than whites, and these differences are not simply the result of greater stroke severity. AAccording to Ronnie D. Horner, Ph.D., program director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), and leader of a recently published study, research has found that African Americans who delay their post-stroke rehabilitation recover at a significantly slower rate than whites who experience the same rehabilitation delay. Recovery rates are even lower among low-income African Americans.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, killing 167,000 Americans each year. African Americans have more strokes at earlier ages, are more likely to die from them, and experience worse levels of recovery than other racial groups.

Previous studies have shown that patients who receive prompt care (within three days of the stroke) in hospital stroke rehabilitation units, experience lower mortality and better recovery of physical function.

We know that African Americans are more likely to suffer strokes and have worse outcomes overall. Now we can more closely pinpoint the reasons behind those negative outcomes and examine ways to make improvements, said Dr. Horner, whose research results appear in the April 2003 issue of Stroke.

The study examined racial differences in timely access to rehabilitation services following a stroke with patients at nine Veterans Affairs medical centers nationwide. Patients were treated within the VA health care system, which provides equal access for its patients, and were followed for one year following the onset of hemorrhagic or ischemic stroke. The study was funded by grants from The VA Health Services Research and Development Service and the VA Cooperative Studies/Epidemiologic Research and Information Center programs, where Dr. Horner was employed at the time of the research.

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Contact: Margo Warren
301-496-57571
NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
9-May-2003


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