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Women, Mexican Americans at Higher Risk for Certain Stroke

Subarachnoid hemorrhage caused by bleeding in space around the brain, study reports

WEDNESDAY, June 11 (HealthDay News) -- Mexican Americans and women may have an increased risk of experiencing a stroke in which there is bleeding in the space around the brain, a new study finds.

Researchers, reviewing the medical records of almost 30,000 people over age 44 in southeast Texas, found that Mexican Americans ran nearly twice the risk of a subarachnoid hemorrhage than white people. Women, they found, had a one-and-three-quarters-fold increased risk of having this type of stroke.

Only 107 of the 29,907 people in the study experienced a subarachnoid hemorrhage during the seven-year study period.

A subarachnoid hemorrhage often results from a cerebral aneurysm, a blistering of a blood vessel. Even if caught early, it could kill a person or lead to severe disability. The condition may cause a person to have a severe or "thunderclap" headache. Vomiting, seizures and neck stiffness may accompany the headache.

The findings were published in the June 11 online issue of Neurology.

"Physicians and public health officials should help Mexican Americans and women take steps which might prevent subarachnoid hemorrhage," study author Dr. Lewis B. Morgenstern, director of the University of Michigan Stroke Program in Ann Arbor, said in a prepared statement. "Given that Mexican Americans account for the largest and fastest-growing minority group in the United States, it is important to examine how this condition may affect certain ethnicities differently."

Tobacco use and hypertension treatment differences among ethnic groups may have played a role in the study's outcome, he said, noting that since the study took place in one geographic area, its results may not hold for other locations.

More information

The National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about cerebral aneurysms.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, June 11, 2008

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