Strong Heart Stroke Study – Pilot Expansion for Urban American Indian and Alaska Natives

This pilot study expands on the recently completed Strong Heart Stroke Study, which was the largest, most extensive examination of risk and protective factors for cerebrovascular disease ever conducted with American Indians. The research cohort assembled by the Strong Heart Stroke Study included men and women aged 45-74 years from 13 tribes in South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Arizona. Virtually all participants lived in rural areas. Our new pilot effort will further investigate cerebrovascular risk factors in Native people by conducting a feasibility study in an urban environment. The pilot cohort consists of 60 American Indians and Alaska Natives aged 65 and older who live in the Seattle metropolitan area.

We will use the same neurocognitive assessments as the Strong Heart Stroke Study to explore whether this urban cohort is characterized by distinctive risk or protective factors for cerebrovascular health. Our analyses will address a variety of factors. These might include the availability of acute care in urban settings (which can improve stroke survival) and the accessibility of resources related to lifestyle and health behaviors (which might mitigate or delay age-related cognitive decline). This research is urgently needed, since no studies to date have compared the cerebrovascular and cognitive risk profiles of urban versus rural Native populations.