African Americans are twice as likely to die from stroke as Caucasians. The rate of first strokes in African Americans is almost double that of Caucasians, and strokes tend to occur earlier in life for African Americans than Caucasians. Additionally, African-American stroke survivors are more likely to become disabled and experience difficulties with daily living and activities.
The statistics are staggering—in fact, African Americans are more impacted by stroke than any other racial groups within the American population.
Not all of the reasons are clear why African Americans have an increased risk of stroke. Some risk factors play a major role. African Americans have a higher rate of:
High blood pressure: The number one risk factor for stroke, and 1 in 3 African Americans suffer from high blood pressure.
Diabetes: People with diabetes have a higher stroke risk.
Sickle cell anemia: The most common genetic disorder amongst African Americans. If sickle-shaped cells block a blood vessel to the brain, a stroke can result.
Smoking: Risk for stroke doubles when you smoke. If you stop smoking today, your stroke risk will immediately begin to decrease.
Obesity: Adopting a lower-sodium (salt), lower-fat diet and becoming more physically active may help lower blood pressure and risk for stroke.
If a person has one or more of these risk factors, it's even more important to learn about stroke symptoms and response and the lifestyle and medical changes that can be made to prevent a stroke.
- Learn about stroke risk through easy-to-understand stroke prevention guidelines.
- Download and complete National Stroke Association's Stroke Risk Scorecard, which can be discussed with a doctor, who can advise on ways to change lifestyle or prescribe medications to help lower stroke risk.
- Learn about stroke symptoms and how to respond to them by calling 911. Remember that stroke strikes FAST and you should too.
- African Americans have twice the mortality from stroke compared with Caucasians.
- African Americans have more severe and disabling strokes compared with Caucasians.
- African-American women have a lower one-year survival following ischemic stroke (caused by a blood clot) compared with Caucasians.
- African Americans have twice the risk of first ever strokes compared with Caucasians.
- Among those aged 20 to 44 years of age, African Americans are 2.4 times more likely to have a stroke compared with Caucasians.
- African Americans are significantly less likely to receive tPA, the only FDA-approved treatment for stroke, compared with Caucasians.