After having a stroke, people with lower incomes and blue-collar jobs seem to be more likely to die in the next year or two than those with higher incomes and white-collar jobs — regardless of the severity of the stroke — according to a new study.
Dr. Jasmin Arrich and colleagues from the Medical University of Vienna looked at socioeconomic status and long-term mortality in 2600 adults in Austria who had a stroke or TIA (i.e., “mini-stroke”) and were followed for an average of 2-1/2 years. Compared with white-collar workers, the death rate after stroke was 87 percent higher among unskilled workers and 61 percent higher among skilled workers, the investigators report in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke. Also, early retirees were 75 percent more likely to die during the follow-up period than individuals who were still employed at the time of the stroke. Income was similarly linked to mortality after stroke. Compared with patients in the highest income group, those in the lowest income group had a 71 percent higher risk of dying. The significant influence of socioeconomic status on mortality after stroke in Austria was surprising since the country has a national health insurance plan that guarantees universal access to medical care, Arrich told Reuters Health. “Our study showed that in a country with an equitable healthcare system, socioeconomic differences still influence mortality after stroke,” Arrich said. Several studies have linked low socioeconomic status to an increased risk of having a stroke, “but according to our data there may also be an ongoing effect of socioeconomic status even after the stroke event,” the researcher added. (Source: Stroke: Reuters Health: Megan Rauscher: December 2004.)