Abstract T P136: Potential Contributors to the Declining Impact of Stroke Risk Factors with Age: Implications for Stroke Epidemiology in the Elderly
Purpose: The importance of stroke research in the elderly is increasing as America is “graying.” For most risk factors for most diseases (including stroke), the magnitude of association with incident events decreases at older ages. Potential changes in the impact of risk factors could be a “true” effect, or could be due to methodological issues such as age-related changes in residual confounding.
Methods: REGARDS followed 27,748 stroke-free participants age 45 and over for an average of 5.3 years, during which 715 incident strokes occurred. The association of the “Framingham” risk factors (hypertension [HTN], diabetes, smoking, AFib, LVH and heart disease) with incident stroke risk was assessed in age strata of 45-64 (Young), 65-74 (Middle), and 75+ (Old). For those with and without an “index” risk factor (e.g., HTN), the average number of “other” risk factors was calculated.
Results: With the exception of AFib, there was a monotonic decrease in the magnitude of the impact across the age strata, with HTN, diabetes, smoking and LVH even becoming non-significant in the elderly (Figure 1). However, for most factors, the increasing prevalence of other risk factors with age impacts primarily those with the index risk factor absent (Figure 2, example HTN as the “index” risk factor).
Discussion: The impact of stroke risk factors substantially declined at older ages. However, this decrease is partially attributable to increases in the prevalence of other risk factors among those without the index risk factor, as there was little change in the prevalence of other risk factors in those with the index risk factor. Hence, the impact of the index risk factor is attenuated by increased risk in the comparison group. If this phenomenon is active with latent risk factors, estimates from multivariable analysis will also decrease with age. A deeper understanding of age-related changes in the impact of risk factors is needed.
Author Disclosures: G. Howard: None. M. Cushman: None. M. Banach: None. B.M. Kissela: None. D.C. Goff: None. E.Z. Soliman: None. S.E. Judd: None. V.J. Howard: None.
- © 2014 by American Heart Association, Inc.