Stroke Survival Study

A study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the University of Minnesota has been reported on by the American Heart Association, with some very interesting insights, including:

  • Seniors living in closely-knit, supportive neighborhoods have significantly better stroke survival rates than others, regardless of other health or socioeconomic factors.
  • For each single point increase in a neighborhood “cohesion” scoring system, survival increased 53 percent.
  • Researchers found no differences in the incidence of strokes — only in death rates — and the benefits were not observed among African-Americans for reasons that remain unclear.

We have known the importance of a strong social network for many reasons, including reduced likelihood of depression for seniors.  In some ways, these results are fairly obvious.  If you have neighbors and friends checking on each other regularly, help is a lot “closer” than for more isolated elders.

At Support For Home, we have had many instances of a fairly formal social network among our home care clients.

In one case, neighbors across the street expected the curtains in each other’s windows to be opened by a set time each morning.  If they were not opened, the other neighbor would check.  Eventually, this led to one neighbor discovering another had, indeed, had a stroke.

In another case, two neighbors shared a newspaper.  If one neighbor did not bring it over to the second neighbor by a certain time, the second neighbor new to check.  If the second neighbor did not accept / acknowledge the paper, the first one knew there was a problem.

The study developed a neighborhood cohesion scoring system, using factors such as knowledge of neighbors’ names, interactions, etc.:

For each single point increase in the neighborhood “cohesion” scoring system, survival increased 53 percent.

While stroke incidence didn’t differ among neighborhoods, stroke survival was far better for seniors living in “cohesive” neighborhoods, regardless of their gender.

So, while the likelihood of a stroke is not impacted by social cohesion, survival rates clearly are.  So, get out of the house and go next door.  If you do not need to borrow a cup of sugar, take one over to the neighbor!  🙂

Best wishes, Bert


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