Stroke Rates Are Declining
By Nicholas Bakalar
The incidence of stroke in the United States has declined significantly over the past two decades, a new analysis has found.
The decreases were apparent in people older than 65, the most common age group for stroke, and were similar in men and women and in blacks and whites. There were decreases in stroke deaths as well, but they were concentrated in younger research participants. The report appeared in JAMA.
Researchers followed 14,357 people, ages 45 to 64 at the start of the study, from 1987 to 2011. After accounting for coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, smoking, statin use and other factors, they found that the incidence of stroke decreased by about 50 percent over the period of the study, and stroke deaths by about 40 percent.
Smoking cessation and better treatment of hypertension and high cholesterol accounted for part of the decrease, according to the senior author, Dr. Josef Coresh, a professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and improved medical care and more rigorous control of risk factors probably helped as well. Increased diabetes prevalence, on the other hand, contributed to higher risk.
“The decrease in stroke also suggests that there’s a decrease in smaller strokes that we may not detect,” he said, “and that would bode well for overall brain health and the potential for decreasing the risk of dementia with aging.”
A version of this article appears in print on 07/22/2014, on page D4 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Patterns: Stroke Rates Are Declining.