Stroke Rate Rises for Blacks in South Carolina

Researchers say increase may be due to higher rates of high blood pressure and diabetes. 

Posted: 07/01/2014 01:24 PM EDT

The number of middle-aged blacks who suffered stroke in South Carolina rose by about one-fifth over a decade; there was no increase at all among whites, according to a new study.

For the study, published in the journal Stroke, researchers analyzed the records of more than 84,000 stroke survivors discharged from hospitals in South Carolina between 2001 and 2010. They found stroke hospitalizations among blacks younger than 65 grew by more than 17 percent, while remaining unchanged for whites the same age. Researchers also found that blacks seemed more vulnerable to stroke at younger ages. According to the study, slightly more than half of the blacks hospitalized with stroke were younger than 65, compared with 30 percent of whites.

“Excess strokes among blacks, as well as the lingering racial disparity in the younger groups, represent a serious public health issue,” said lead author Wayne Feng, M.D., a stroke neurologist at the Medical University of South Carolina Stroke Center in Charleston.

The greater stroke risk among blacks younger than 65 could be attributed to the fact that we’re more likely to have stroke risk factors, including high blood pressure and diabetes.

“Our results show the importance of staying healthy, exercising and eating well, and starting these healthy habits while you are still young,” Dr. Feng said. “Combined with annual physician checkups to identify and treat diseases, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, these habits can help you prevent stroke down the road.”

The news wasn’t all bad: Stroke hospitalizations among blacks and whites 65 and older fell during the study period, and the 30-day death rate from stroke dropped among all age and racial groups.

Read more about Blacks and strokes at BlackHealthMatters.Com.

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 (Photo: Rick Gershon/Getty Images)

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