High blood pressure and diabetes are known risk factors for stroke, but now a new study shows that the amount of risk may decrease with age. The study was published in the January 18, 2023 online issue of Neurology®Medical Journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Study author George Howard, Dr. “Our findings show that their association with stroke risk may be significantly lower at older ages, yet other risk factors do not change with age. These differences in risk factors mean that determining whether a person is at risk of stroke may It varies depending on the age.”
The study included 28,235 people who had never had a stroke. Of this group, 41% were black and 59% were white. The participants were followed for an average of 11 years.
At the start of the study, participants were interviewed and had physical examinations to assess risk factors. Risk factors included high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, atrial fibrillation, heart disease and left ventricular hypertrophy, which is a thickening of the heart’s left ventricle. Howard added that because blacks are known to have a higher risk of stroke, race was also considered as part of the risk factors assessed.
The researchers followed up with the participants every six months, and confirmed strokes by reviewing medical records.
During the study, there were 1,405 strokes over a period of 276,074 person-years. Person years represent both the number of people in the study and the amount of time each person spent in the study.
The participants were divided into three age groups, which were then compared. The age ranges of these groups differed slightly depending on the data being analyzed by the researchers. Generally, the youngest group included participants between the ages of 45 and 69, the middle group included people in their late 60s to 70s, and the oldest group included people 74 years of age or older.
Researchers found that people with diabetes in the younger age group were almost twice as likely to suffer a stroke than people of the same age without diabetes, while people with diabetes in the older age group had a 30% higher risk. Almost had a stroke. Stroke in older people without diabetes.
The researchers also found that people with high blood pressure in the younger age group had an 80% higher risk of having a stroke than people of the same age without high blood pressure, while this risk dropped to 50% for people with high blood pressure. blood pressure in the elderly. compared to people of the same age without high blood pressure.
Additionally, when the researchers examined race as a risk factor, they found that the risk of stroke was higher for black participants in the younger age group than for white participants in that group. The race difference decreased in the older age group. For stroke risk factors such as smoking, atrial fibrillation, and left ventricular hypertrophy, the researchers found no age-related change in risk.
“It is important to note that our results do not indicate that treatment of high blood pressure and diabetes becomes unimportant in the elderly,” Howard said. “Therapies like these are still very important to a person’s health. But it may also be wise for clinicians to focus on managing risk factors such as atrial fibrillation, smoking, and left ventricular hypertrophy with age.”
Howard also noted that even if the influence of risk factors decreases with age, the total number of people having strokes at older ages may still be greater since the overall risk of stroke increases with age. For example, in the younger hypertensive age group, researchers estimate that about 2.0% of people with normal high blood pressure had a stroke, compared to 3.6% of people with high blood pressure. In the older age group, about 6.2% of people with normal blood pressure had a stroke, compared to 9.3% of people with high blood pressure.
A limitation of the research was that the participants’ risk factors were assessed only once at the start of the study, and it is possible that they may have changed over time.
The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, including the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute on Aging.