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More Risk Factors, Less Access to Care Behind Higher Stroke Rates in U.S.
Date:2/23/2008

Europeans less likely to have an attack, study finds

SATURDAY, Feb. 23 (HealthDay News) -- A higher rate of risk factors and more barriers to health care may be among the reasons why stroke is more common in the United States than in Europe, a new study suggests.

Researchers examined 2004 data on 13,667 people in the United States and 30,120 people in 11 European countries, and found that American men were 61 percent more likely to suffer a stroke than European men, and American women were almost twice as likely as European women to have a stroke.

"Most of this gap [in stroke risk] is among relatively poor Americans who were, in our data, much more likely to have a stroke than poor Europeans, whereas the gap in stroke prevalence is less marked between rich Americans and rich Europeans," study author Mauricio Avendano, a research fellow in public health at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, said in a prepared statement.

The data analysis included stroke occurrence, socioeconomic status, and major risk factors for stroke, including obesity, diabetes, smoking, physical activity and alcohol consumption.

Overall, women were about 25 percent less likely than men to have a stroke, the study found.

"Many risk factors for stroke, including blood pressure and smoking, have generally increased among women but remained stable among men," Avendano said. "This may explain why the gap in stroke prevalence between men and women is less marked than before. In fact, in some age groups and populations such as France, women may have higher prevalence of stroke than men."

The researchers found that age-adjusted stroke prevalence varied considerably between countries. It was highest in the United States and lowest in the southern Mediterranean countries of Spain, Italy and Greece, as well as in Switzerland.

"Southern Mediterranean countries have a diet rich in vegetables, f
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