Identification of reversible causes of minority inequity in stroke: severity related to race and socio-economic status

Objectives: Previous reports of a higher incidence and risk of stroke in minorities were associated primarily with race and ethnicity, yet the relationship between socio-economic status (SES) and racial disparities in stroke is less well known. We have investigated the effects of SES on the incidence of stroke type and its severity in minorities.

Methods: The clinical and demographic data on 140 patients diagnosed with a stroke in the North Lawndale neighbourhood of Chicago, one of the city’s poorest communities, were collected prospectively over a 13-month period and then were retrospectively analysed.

Results: Overall, haemorrhagic stroke occurred in 31% of cases, differing from the previously reported haemorrhagic stroke incidence of 15%. When accounting for SES, the incidence of haemorrhagic stroke in the uninsured versus the privately or Medicaid-insured increased to 50%. Uninsured African-American patients experienced even higher rates of haemorrhagic stroke at 55%.

Conclusions: Patients who are uninsured minorities may be at an increased risk for severe strokes. This increase in risk appears to be related to the increased incidence of risk factors and lack of treatment. The lack of funds, care access, and limited education in these patients may be related to their increase in risk factors. This paper identifies potentially reversible environmental and societal factors that can lead to improved outcomes in indigent minority patients.