Guest Blogger: Dr. Kazuma Nakagawa, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Neurology, Univerisity of Hawai`i, John A. Burns School of Medicine, and vascular neurologist at the Neuroscience Institute, The Queen's Medical Center.
Stroke can be debilitating not only to the patient but to their entire ohana. My lifelong commitment is to reduce the incidence of stroke in our community through research and education. I am truly grateful that the American Heart Association has been supporting my research effort. Unfortunately, recent cuts to research funding that I receive from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) due to federal budget sequestration are threatening to cut short my work to better understand disparities that we’re seeing in stroke in Hawaii.
Through an AHA-funded retrospective study I was able to identify that 34 percent of the patients that were treated at The Queen’s Medical Center experiencing intracerebral hemorrhage before the age of 45 years were Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. After age 45, only 16 percent were Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. Through NIH funding I was subsequently awarded I am now trying to determine the causes of the strokes in young Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.
Besides genetics, environmental factors – such as diet, stress, unhealthy lifestyles and a lack of good health care – could also affect the higher incidences. We need to better understand all of these factors to possibly begin to lower incidence rates in those populations. However, cuts to federal NIH funding, if it continues, may make it difficult to complete my study. It’s important to let our legislative representatives know that those cuts could potentially impact lives in our state.