Study reveals Maori and Pacific islanders have increasing incidence of stroke

A study published this month in Stroke* investigating trends in stroke incidence in Auckland, New Zealand shows Maori and Pacific peoples are suffering more strokes than other ethnic groups. The data from two decades of research reveals that stroke attack and incidence rates have increased in Pacific peoples since 1981, almost double that in New Zealanders of European origin (NZ/Europeans).

Stroke is a major health problem that affects around 17 million people globally. Auckland's population is one of the most ethnically diverse in New Zealand and, until now, limited data has been available on ethnic differences in stroke risk and outcome. The study, led by Kristie Carter, Health Research Council of New Zealand Pacific health PhD scholar, assessed data accumulated over a 20 year period, from general practitioners, hospital records, questionnaires and interviews. The study was funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand and was facilitated by The George Institute for International Health in collaboration with the University of Auckland, New Zealand, as part of the Auckland Regional Community Stroke (ARCOS) Study Group.

"Encouraging declines in the rate of stroke among NZ/Europeans in Auckland have taken place over the last 20 years, yet, in the same period, Maori and Pacific populations have shown a near doubling of stroke incidence," Ms Carter noted.

In Maori and Pacific people, in particular, strokes are now occurring more frequently and at a younger age - on average up to 10 and 15 years earlier than in NZ/Europeans.

"These divergent trends and ongoing ethnic disparities in stroke call for urgent development and the implementation of prevention strategies for different ethnic groups in New Zealand." Carter said.

"Significant change in the patterns of stroke management were identified over the 20 year period, however substantial action to improve prevention strategies must be planned as the local and global burde

Contact: Emma Eyles
Research Australia

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