University of Michigan researchers say a study finds Mexican Americans have a substantially greater risk for strokes. Overall, depending on age, Mexican Americans had between 15 percent and 110 percent higher stroke risk compared with non-Hispanic whites. Researchers from the university's stroke program chose Nueces County, Texas, for their population-based study because 56 percent of the population is Mexican American, the area has a high quality of medical care, and it is more than 150 miles from the nearest major city where a stroke victim might otherwise be treated. From January 2000 through December 2002, 54 percent of the 2,350 cerebrovascular events occurred in Mexican Americans. Study details were presented this week at the American Academy of Neurology 56th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.
DEPRESSION SEVERITY A FACTOR IN STROKE RISK
A person's level of depression affects their risk of stroke, say researchers at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. Depressive symptoms have been considered a risk factor for stroke before but it was difficult to tell how the severity of the depression affected the chance for a stroke, said lead author Dr. Ji Chong, who presented her results at the American Academy of Neurology meeting in San Francisco. The researchers collected data from nearly 3,300 subjects who participated in a study on mood and had been asked to rank how they felt during a week-long period. Starting out, about one-third reported some level of depression and 160 had strokes over the next five years. Anyone who was depressed also appeared to have a 40 percent higher risk for stroke. When broken down for race, whites who were depressed had more than double the risk of stroke, and whites with the most severe depression appeared to be highest risk. Less risk was found among blacks or Hispanics, but Chong said this could be due to the self-reported data used.
REPORT PINPOINTS AIR POLLUTION
Nearly 66 million Americans live in areas with high levels of particle air pollution, according to an American Lung Association report. The report, released Thursday, is the association's first to break particulate matter down to the county level and it provides county-by-county levels for ozone pollution or smog. Particle pollution, released from power plants, wood-burning stoves, diesel exhaust and other sources, can be dangerous when it accumulates over time. Cardiovascular disease, chronic bronchitis and emphysema have been linked to areas with short-term rises in particle levels, while 3.6 million adults and 1.4 million children with asthma live in areas with year-round poor air quality.
HIGH CHOLESTEROL - JUST WINTER WEAR?
Cholesterol levels vary with the seasons, reaching their highest levels in the winter, researchers report in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Dr. Ira Ockene of the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Worcester, led a one-year study of 517 healthy volunteers to learn more about why more people are diagnosed with high cholesterol in the winter. Each quarter, the researchers checked diet, physical activity, exposure to light, general behavioral information and cholesterol levels. There were no major changes in eating habits, but plasma volume -- a component of blood -- increased in winter, which may explain why cholesterol levels peaked in December and January, the researchers said. Cholesterol levels rose more in women than in men and those who already had high cholesterol experienced the highest increase.
(Editors: For more information about STROKE and DEPRESSION, contact Kathy Stone at (651) 695-2763 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For POLLUTION, Cathy Renna and Liza Cichowski at (212) 584-5000 or email@example.com. For CHOLESTEROL, Michael Cohen at (508) 856-2000)