How Race Affects Stroke Care

How Race Affects Stroke Care

Overview

When it comes to stroke care, minorities may be less likely than their white counterparts to receive life-saving measures, such as clot-busting therapy or procedures to unclog arteries in the neck that improve blood flow to the brain, a recent study found.

In an analysis of patients hospitalized for stroke across the United States from 2007 to 2011, researchers found procedures that improve outcome weren’t used as frequently in minorities, while procedures used to assess stroke damage were overused in this same population. The researchers took into account other factors that play a role in determining stroke care, including age, gender, overall health and type of facility or hospital.

According to the study, minorities were 20 percent less likely to receive clot-busting therapy and 43 percent less likely to undergo a procedure to help improve blood flow in the carotid artery. Instead, minorities were much more likely to have medical interventions that are not widely accepted as standard stroke care, such as feeding tubes (56 percent more likely), mechanical ventilation (44 percent more likely) and surgery to relieve brain swelling (36 percent more likely).

Researchers stressed that it is important to reduce delays in seeking stroke treatment (delays in getting stroke care are generally longer among minorities) and improve access to care for all stroke patients.

African Americans are more likely to have stroke risk factors, including high blood pressure and diabetes.