Friday, May 18, 2007

African-Americans are nearly twice as likely as whites to suffer a stroke, and better-educated people are far less likely to have one


Strokes are most common in Mississippi and other Southern states and least in Connecticut, according to a report providing the first U.S. state-by-state accounting of the third-leading cause of American deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, issued Thursday, also showed that black people are nearly twice as likely as whites to suffer a stroke, and better-educated people are far less likely to have one.

The findings were based on a survey of more than 350,000 Americans to estimate the percentage of people in all 50 states over age 18 who have had a non-fatal stroke. Nationwide, the figure was 2.6 percent, an estimated 5.8 million people. Similar trends have been found in studies of stroke mortality.

The prevalence of stroke ranged from 1.5 percent in Connecticut to 4.3 percent in Mississippi, the report found.

"It's clear that the South has the highest prevalence of stroke," CDC epidemiologist Jonathan Neyer, the report's lead author, said in a telephone interview.

Neyer said states with the highest prevalence tended to have people with more major risk factors for stroke, including obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels and diabetes.

Regional differences also are affected by poverty, diet, exercise, and access to health care, the report said.

A stroke happens when blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. Brain cells start to perish within minutes.

Stroke is a leading cause of disability in the United States, killing more than 160,000 people annually. Only heart disease and cancer kill more.

After Mississippi, the states with the highest prevalence were: Oklahoma (3.4 percent), Louisiana (3.3 percent), Alabama and Nevada (3.2 percent), Tennessee, Missouri and Kentucky (3.1 percent), Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan, Texas and West Virginia (3.0 percent).

After Connecticut, states with the lowest prevalence were: Colorado and Minnesota (1.7 percent), North Dakota (1.8 percent), Wisconsin and Wyoming (1.9 percent), and Arizona, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont (2.1 percent).

The highest stroke prevalence was found in among American Indians and Alaska Natives, at 6 percent. At 1.6 percent, Asian Americans had the lowest rate.

Prevalence of stroke in blacks (4 percent) was far higher than in whites (2.3 percent). The report said blacks have a much higher prevalence of high blood pressure and diabetes and are less likely to have them treated than whites.

College graduates had much lower stroke prevalence (1.8 percent) than those who had not completed high school (4.4 percent).

This may mean that people with lower IQs are at greater risk for strokes.

Stroke: Where Does Your State Rank?


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