Two nursing researchers at Georgia State University's Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing and Health Professions say in a recently published study in the Journal of Neuroscience Nursing that young African-Americans often hold a distorted view of their personal risk for a stroke.
Dawn Aycock, assistant professor, and Pat Clark, professor, examined the accuracy of risk perception by comparing a group of young rural African-Americans perceived risk to their actual risk of stroke. Stroke is a growing health issue. One-third of strokes occur in people under the age of 65. Young African-Americans have a 50 percent higher chance of having a stroke than Caucasians of the same age. Death rates due to stroke are also higher among African-Americans. Hypertension, diabetes and obesity increase the likelihood of stroke in young adults.
The researchers recruited young African-American patients from a mobile clinic that visits four rural Georgia communities. Participants were on average 43 years old and female and had no physical limitations to exercise. They were asked a series of questions to determine each participant's perception of their personal risk for a stroke in the next two decades. Researchers then matched the questionnaires with personal and family history forms developed from a commonly used stroke risk assessment form created by the American Stroke Association.
Conclusions of the research were that education on stroke risk must be increased in younger African-Americans. Nurses should find ways to link poor personal health habits with stroke risk for the rural African-American population, the researchers said. "Many young adults don't know about stroke because it is typically a disease of older adults," Aycock said. "Most strokes can be prevented by changing unhealthy behaviors."