NEW YORK: For people aged 50 and 64 years, being wealthy seems to protect them against having a stroke, according to new research. After age 65, however, wealth appears to make little difference in stroke risk.

“We confirmed that lower wealth, education and income are associated with increased stroke up to age 65, and wealth is the strongest predictor of stroke among the factors we looked at,” Dr Mauricio Avendano, who was involved in the research, noted in a written statement.

“After age 65, the association of education, income and wealth with stroke are very weak, and wealth did not clearly predict stroke,” said Avendano, of Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Each year about 780,000 Americans suffer strokes; about 27 per cent of strokes occur before age 65, according to the American Heart Association.

Avendano and co-investigator M. Maria Glymour assessed the effect of income (i.e., annual earnings), wealth (total of all assets minus liabilities) and education on stroke risk in 19,445 Americans in the ongoing University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study (HRS), which surveys Americans age 50 and older every two years.

All of them were stroke-free when they entered the study in 1992, 1993 or 1998. During an average of 8.5 years, 1,542 people in the study had a stroke.

Avendano and Glymour report in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke that the 10 per cent of people with the lowest wealth had three times the stroke risk at age 50 to 64, compared with those with the highest wealth.

“Lack of material resources themselves, and particularly wealth, appear to strongly influence people’s chances to have a first stroke,” Avendano said.—Reuters

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