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Hypertension and type 2 diabetes are key risk factors for stroke, but the association may decrease as patients age, a new study has found.

Investigators followed health outcomes in 28,000 people for 11 years. Younger people with hypertension or diabetes were much more likely to experience a stroke than their peers without hypertension and diabetes. But that relative risk shrunk substantially when comparing older adults who have those conditions to their similar-age peers without either condition, the researchers reported.

In addition, race differences between Black and white participants (with Black patients at higher risk of stroke) decreased in the older age group. 

At the same time, the link between stroke and risk factors such as smoking, atrial fibrillation and left ventricular hypertrophy did not decrease with age, the researchers noted.

Stroke prevention

Although the results do not suggest that hypertension and diabetes are unimportant or that they shouldn’t be treated to manage stroke risk, stroke risk may not be consistent across the age spectrum, they said.

“It also may be wise for doctors to focus on managing risk factors such as atrial fibrillation, smoking and left ventricular hypertrophy as people age,” they concluded.

Full findings were published in the journal Neurology

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