Abstract NS6: Family History of Stroke: Invisibility of a Key Stroke Risk Factor among High Risk African Americans
Background & Purpose: Young to middle aged African Americans (AA) are at greater risk for a first-ever stroke, severe neurologic disability, and stroke-related mortality, than Caucasians of similar age; however, it remains unclear what role a family history of stroke (FHS) plays in promoting adoption of healthier lifestyles in this cohort. The purpose of this study was to explore differences between rural Stroke Belt AA with a FHS (e.g. parent/grandparent/sibling) on modifiable stroke risk factors, knowledge, perceived threat and perceived control of stroke, and exercise behaviors to AA without a FHS.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted recruiting AA aged 19-54 from the Black Belt region of Alabama via a mobile health clinic. Participants’ perceptions, knowledge, exercise history/intent, physiologic data, and health history were recorded.
Results: Participants (N=66) averaged 43.3+9.4 years, were 71% female, with at least 12 years of school (89%), and unemployed (62%). Common risk factors were insufficient exercise (76%), obesity (59%), hypertension (53%; blood pressure M=145+17.6/88.3+12.9), and cigarette smoking (38%). Participants with a FHS (n=33) did not differ on average number of risk factors compared to those without a FHS (FHS 2.8+1.4 vs. 2.2+1.5; t(64)= 1.73, p=.089), nor did they differ on physiologic data. However, participants with a FHS were more likely to report a history of hypertension (67%) compared to those without a FHS (33%; χ2 =4.93, p <.05). There were no significant differences between groups for knowledge of stroke risk factors, perceived threat and perceived control of stroke, or recent exercise performance, although participants with a FHS (3.4+1.2) had significantly lower future intentions to exercise compared to those without a FHS (3.9+0.8); t(64)=2.45, p<.05).
Conclusions: Although FHS is a significant non-modifiable risk factor for stroke and was common in this young to middle-aged AA cohort, FHS did not drive perceived stroke risk, risk factor control, or current/future intentions to exercise. Identification of interventions designed to personalize FHS as a key stroke risk factor, while promoting lifestyle change and self-management, may play an important role in future primary stroke prevention.
- © 2012 by American Heart Association, Inc.