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A new study found that middle-aged Mexican-Americans faced double the risk of stroke compared with white people, with diabetes considered a major contributing factor.

Ischemic strokes are the most common and occur when an artery supplying blood to the brain is blocked.

The role of diabetes in the study is important because Mexican-Americans have a much higher rate of uncontrolled diabetes compared to whites, said Rajiv Patel, a medical student at Virginia Commonwealth University and lead author of the study. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show 18 percent of Mexican-American adults have diabetes, compared with 9.6 percent of white adults.

Diabetes is a principal risk factor for stroke because it contributes to plaque buildup in small blood vessels, including those in the brain, Patel said.

“We should be looking at major policy changes that affect the risk factors [such as] access to primary care prevention for Mexican-Americans to help decrease disparities, focusing on those upstream factors instead of the end result,” Patel said.

In the study, published Thursday in the journal Stroke, Patel and his…