Older Americans stroke rate continues to decline

TUESDAY, Oct. 1, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Starting in the late 1980s, stroke rates among older Americans began to fall -- and the decline shows no signs of stopping, a new study finds.

The researchers found that between 1987 and 2017, the rate of stroke incidence among Americans aged 65 and older dropped by one-third per decade. The pattern has been steady, with no leveling off in recent years.

It's not completely clear why, according to researcher Dr. Josef Coresh, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, in Baltimore.

Over time, fewer older adults in the study were smokers, which is a major risk factor for stroke. On the other hand, some other risk factors -- such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes -- became more common.

Of course, those conditions can be treated. And it's known that for any one person, getting high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes under control can cut the risk of stroke, Coresh said.

"However," he added, "at the population level, we found that the decline [in strokes] was larger than what would be predicted from risk factor control alone."

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