Abstract 22: Accuracy of Perceived Stroke Risk among Young to Middle-Aged Rural African Americans
Background & Purpose: Stroke has increased among young adults, which is concerning for African Americans (AA) who have more severe stroke-related outcomes than Caucasians. Since stroke is more common in older adults, younger adults may not recognize stroke as a threat or take action to reduce modifiable stroke risk factors. The purpose of this study was to examine accuracy of perceived stroke risk by comparing perceived risk of future stroke with actual risk of stroke among rural AA aged 19-54 years.
Methods: A cross-sectional design was used and AA were recruited from rural Alabama. Perceived risk of stroke was measured using a single-item subjective rating of 10-20 year risk of stroke and factors participants attributed to their risk were also explored. Actual stroke risk was calculated based on the presence of eight risk factors: history of hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, cigarette smoking, family history of stroke, BMI > 30 and lack of exercise. Based on the number of actual risk factors, participants were categorized into one of three groups; no risk, low risk (1-2 factors); or moderate-high risk (> 3 risk factors).
Results: Participants (N=66) had a mean age of 43.3+9.4 years, were 71% female, with at least 12 years of school (89%), and unemployed (62%). The majority (66%) perceived their risk of future stroke as no or low risk. However, actual risk factors averaged 2.97+1.63 out of 8 with 59% in the moderate-high actual stroke risk category. In comparing perceived versus actual risk, 44% underestimated, 47% were accurate, and 9% overestimated their risk. Sample characteristics were not associated with accuracy. Most (69%) participants with hypertension (n= 35); 80% of cigarette smokers (n= 25), 93% of diabetics (n= 13) and 88% of overweight/obese participants (n= 49) did not identify their personal risk factors as contributing to their risk of future stroke.
Conclusion: Despite the number of risk factors observed, participants did not perceive a high risk of future stroke, almost half underestimated their risk of stroke, and few recognized personal risk factors. Strategies to address risk misperceptions should be explored to improve accuracy of perceived stroke risk and facilitate tailoring of interventions to reduce stroke.
- © 2012 by American Heart Association, Inc.