The recent study examining the relationship between social characteristics and the likelihood of receiving treatment for individuals with ischemic stroke reveals concerning disparities in healthcare access. The research highlights that factors such as education, neighborhood, and employment are influential in determining whether people with ischemic stroke receive clot-busting medications, crucial for effective treatment.

This underscores the impact of social determinants of health on healthcare outcomes. The study, focusing on the most common type of stroke caused by interrupted blood flow to the brain, suggests that individuals’ access to timely and appropriate medical care is influenced by their social context. Addressing these disparities is crucial for ensuring equitable access to life-saving treatments for ischemic stroke, emphasizing the need for targeted interventions and policies that consider and mitigate the role of social characteristics in healthcare access.

“Any barriers that prevent people with stroke from receiving clot-busting drugs, known as thrombolytic therapy, can result in devastating consequences,” stated study author Chanaka Nadeeshan Kahathuduwa, MD, PhD, MPhil, of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

“Our study found that several factors like race, insurance status, where a person lives, and other social determinants of health impacted whether a person received this crucial treatment.”

The study, encompassing 63,983 individuals identified through public health records in Texas, provided a comprehensive analysis of social factors influencing treatment for ischemic stroke. The racial and ethnic composition of the participants revealed a diverse sample, with 67% being white, 18% Black, and 27% Hispanic, acknowledging the complexity of racial and ethnic backgrounds as some participants identified with more than one category.

This demographic breakdown underscores the importance of considering diverse populations in stroke research to understand and address potential disparities in healthcare access and treatment outcomes across different racial and ethnic groups. The large sample size enhances the study’s statistical robustness and contributes valuable insights into the intersection of social characteristics and stroke treatment.

The study analyzed the administration of clot-busting drugs among stroke patients, revealing that 11% received such treatment. To investigate health disparities, researchers examined socioeconomic factors using the Social Vulnerability Index, categorizing participants into four groups based on U.S. Census data. Notably, the least disadvantaged group, comprising 7,930 individuals, saw 1,037 receiving clot-busting drugs, while the most disadvantaged group, consisting of 7,966 individuals, had 964 recipients. After adjusting for age, sex, and education, those with the least disadvantage were 13% more likely to receive the treatment.

Disparities were evident across racial lines, with Black individuals being 10% less likely and Hispanic individuals 7% less likely to receive clot-busting therapy compared to their counterparts. Insurance coverage played a role, as those on Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Assistance, or uninsured were 23% and 10% less likely, respectively, to receive the drugs compared to those with private insurance. Geographic location further impacted access, with participants in rural areas being 40% less likely to receive treatment than those in urban areas. These findings underscore the significant influence of social, racial, insurance, and geographic factors on disparate access to critical medical interventions, emphasizing the need for targeted interventions to address these inequalities in healthcare delivery.

“Our results are concerning and shed light on health care disparities,” stated Kahathuduwa.

“This study demonstrates how social disadvantages may translate to worse stroke care. Further studies are needed to investigate this connection between society, the health care system, and stroke outcomes. Finding new approaches to address these social factors is imperative for improving equity in stroke care and recovery.” 


The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a health advice. We would ask you to consult a qualified professional or medical expert to gain additional knowledge before you choose to consume any product or perform any exercise.

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