People of different racial descents are often impacted in different ways when it comes to health events. For example, people of African descent are more likely to suffer from sickle cell anemia than people of European descent. There are small differences in biological factors that contribute to this, although scientists are still researching just why this is the case.
Another area where race can make a difference when it comes to health is when a stroke occurs. People of African descent are more likely to pass away from a stroke than other populations are. Doctors are now starting to learn why this might be.
People in this demographic are up to three times more likely to die from a stroke than other populations are. The main reason why this occurs is because of genetic variants. What they found was that those from an African lineage were more likely to have a variant in the HNF1A gene. This gene has long been associated with an increased risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. To get to this conclusion, more than 22,000 individuals of African descent were examined. Their genomes were looked at, along with genetic variants that could potentially contribute to a stroke occurring.
Right off the bat, it’s important to point out that racial discrepancies in health outcomes are not necessarily a prejudicial or racist view of healthcare, but rather an honest look at how some people or groups of people are impacted differently by the same thing. If this were an instance of one race receiving better healthcare treatment than another, this would definitely be considered a racist instance. And while that is often the case for some people, that doesn’t seem to be the case here. The available data indicates that black Americans have a worse outcome when it comes to stroke than white Americans do when given the same risk factors, treatment, and other factors. For some reason, those of African descent that suffer from a stroke tend to have a more difficult time when it comes to recovery.
It should also be pointed out that the fact that the lack of a large scale study of why African descendants are more likely to suffer from a fatal stroke–or any other cardiovascular event, for that matter–could potentially be a race-related thing. In the past, science has definitely focused on those that are in power and has ignored those that are not. Again, this isn’t something that we have all the facts on, but being more conscious of privilege and exclusion can help science and medicine to more accurately help more people.
Stroke can still be a serious event, regardless of what your race is. But, now that we know this, we can take a more cautious approach to treatment and prevention in this demographic. We can help the people that we love take better care of themselves and stay healthier. This is a big step in the right direction. Hopefully, more effective treatment for those that fit this risk factor can be developed so that everyone in our communities can be kept safe.
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