|| Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid
Background: Stroke hospitalizations in the US have declined over the last decade, but little is known about whether decreases are similar across racial/ethnic groups. We compared ischemic stroke hospitalization rates and geographic patterns across the US from 2001-2013 for elderly Hispanics, Blacks, Whites, and those of other race/ethnicity.Methods: Ischemic stroke hospitalizations (ICD-9 primary discharge codes 433, 434, 436) were identified among Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries aged ≥65y in 2001-2003 and 2011-2013. National annualized rates for each period were calculated per 100,000 person-years (PY). A spatial mixed model with a Poisson link function and adjustment for age and sex was fit to calculate and map county-specific risk-standardized stroke hospitalization rates for each racial/ethnic group.Results: National annualized stroke hospitalization rates decreased by 15% between 2001-2003 and 2011-2013 (1298/100,000 PY to 1103/100,000 PY). County-level risk-standardized hospitalization rates varied across the US and among the four racial/ethnic groups (figure). Regardless of time period, Blacks had the highest rates, followed by Whites, Hispanics, and other races. The absolute and relative declines in risk-standardized hospitalization rates were smallest for Hispanics (173/100,000 PY; 15%) and Blacks (196/100,000 PY; 12%) compared to Whites (243/100,000 PY; 19%) and other races (273/100,000 PY; 33%).Conclusions: Although national hospitalization rates for ischemic stroke among those aged ≥65y decreased between 2001 and 2013, the decline varied by race/ethnicity, with persistent disparities between groups. Despite the declines in US stroke hospitalizations, these racial/ethnic differences call for greater prioritization of prevention intervention programs to reduce stroke disparities. AHA/ASA efforts to expand stroke systems of care also need to address these disparities.