'Culturally Tailored' Program Helps Hispanics Cut Stroke Risk

Topics: Heart / Stroke-Related: Coronary-Artery Disease Heart / Stroke-Related: High Blood Pressure Heart / Stroke-Related: Misc Heart / Stroke-Related Problems: Stroke Race

THURSDAY, Oct. 11, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- A program to teach Hispanic stroke patients skills to lower their blood pressure and reduce their risk of another stroke was a big success, according to a new study.

The study included 552 white, black and Hispanic stroke patients from four New York City hospitals. All were randomly assigned either to a control group that received usual discharge instructions and stroke pamphlets, or to a group that took part in a culturally tailored, skills-based stroke prevention program that used bilingual materials.

Before leaving the hospital, patients in the program worked with a community health coordinator to learn how to communicate with their doctors, take prescribed medicines as recommended, and improve their blood vessel health.

Patients received follow-up phone calls three days, one month and three months after leaving the hospital.

One year after discharge, blood pressure among Hispanics who participated in the program averaged 9.9 mm Hg lower than in the control group. That translates to a nearly 40 percent reduction in their stroke risk, according to the New York University researchers.

There were no significant differences, however, in blood pressure between groups of white and black patients in the study.

"Our findings show the promise of focusing on skills that people can really use -- enhancing communication with their physician, or clarifying their medication regimen -- so they feel they can do something to reduce their risk of stroke," study lead author Bernadette Boden-Albala said in an NYU news release. She's senior associate dean of research and program development at the university's College of Global Public Health.

"By training patients to take ownership of controlling risk factors, this intervention allows the process to be sustainable beyond the health care system," Boden-Albala said.

About 200,000 of the 800,000 strokes that occur each year in the United States are recurrent strokes, which are particularly disabling and deadly.

"Hispanic individuals -- the fastest growing immigrant population in the United States -- are at an increased risk for stroke, but are less likely to be aware of whether they have hypertension [high blood pressure] and less likely to adhere to their medication," Boden-Albala said.

"The fact that we saw a reduction in blood pressure among Hispanic participants suggests that the intervention addressed some of these gaps," she added.

The study was published Oct. 8 in the journal JAMA Neurology.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more on stroke.

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