Food insecurity increases risk of stroke recurrence

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A new study has linked food insecurity to increased stroke risk factors, such as diabetes and high blood pressure increasing the risk of stroke recurrence. Food insecurity is the state of being without reliable access to adequate amounts of affordable, nutritious food.

The study from a Chicago Hospital presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2017, evaluated 216 patients in the outpatient neurology clinic using a standardized two-question screening tool and reviewing electronic medical records. Forty-nine (22.7%) of the participants were identified as food insecure. Sixty-four patients were diagnosed with stroke; of these, 18.8% were found to be food insecure.

In the food insecure stroke group, 84.6% also had hypertension; 58.3% had diabetes and 16.7% had a previous stroke. While, among stroke survivors not labelled food insecure, 67.3% had hypertension; 28.8% had diabetes and 21.2% had a previous stroke.

These findings suggest that medical treatment of risk factors like hypertension and diabetes may not be enough to prevent stroke recurrence. Food insecurity may also complicate management of these health problems. Hence, social support is also required in addition to medical management especially for high risk patients. Health policy should be framed keeping in mind the availability of nutritious food to lead a healthy life.

The proposed Sustained Developments Goals (SDG) of the United Nations have included food insecurity under Goal 2 “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture”. SDG 2 aims to achieve ending hunger, and ensuring access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round by the year 2030.

(Source: AHA News Release, February 23, 2017)

Dr KK Aggarwal
National President IMA & HCFI