Southern Diet Has Tight Grip on ‘Stroke Belt’

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(VIDEO: HealthDayTV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Research focused on all aspects of stroke is currently being presented at the the International Stroke Conference now underway in Honolulu and presented by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. Earlier in the week we reported on research linking marijuana use to stroke.  The research reported in the excerpt from MedPage Today below confirms the close association between diet and stroke, and suggests that typical Southern cuisine most prevalent in the Southeastern states presents the greatest risk for stroke.

Dietary management is an important aspect of cardiovascular health and stroke risk mitigation. The study lead, Suzanne Judd, PhD, MPH, told MedPage Today, “Diet is an overlooked risk factor for stroke. While physicians, of course, know that diet is a risk factor, stroke patients or patients with risk factors for stroke are rarely referred for dietary counseling.”

MEDPAGE TODAY–For reasons that have eluded explanation, residents of the Southeastern U.S. historically have had about a 20% greater risk of stroke than people living elsewhere in the country. Now, researchers report that deep-fried chicken, sweet tea, and other Southern fare may help explain why this region has come to be known as the “Stroke Belt.”

Research suggests that deep-fried chicken, sweet tea, and other Southern fare may help explain why the Southeast region of the U.S. region has come to be known as the “Stroke Belt.”

Using data from a large, nationwide survey, University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers found that people in the highest quartile of adherence to Southern dietary patterns were at a 41% increased risk of stroke compared with those in the lowest quartile.

In African-Americans, the risk was 63% higher, Suzanne Judd, PhD, MPH, and colleagues reported at the International Stroke Conference here.

What was really surprising, Judd said, was that there was a 30% increased risk of stroke even when the analysis was adjusted for other risk factors such as smoking and physical activity.

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