Stroke is More Prevalent in African Americans

Deanne Stein Health Guide
  • In preparation for a stroke conference the American Heart Association is holding in West Virginia this fall, I’ve been reading up on stroke statistics. This year, nearly 158,000 people will die from a stroke, while about 700,000 Americans will have a new or recurrent stroke. That’s someone every 45 seconds.

    Many people will look at these statistics and just see a bunch of numbers and think ‘boy, that sucks.’ But for other people, like me, survivors and families of survivors or victims, it’s very real. I mean, just in the time I’ve written these couple of paragraphs, at least one person has suffered a stroke. I wonder if they will be as lucky as I was and survive. I also wonder if there was anything that could have been done to prevent it. In most cases, I believe strokes can be prevented. That’s why it is so important to continue getting the word out about stroke, its symptoms, warning signs and how to reduce the risk of stroke.
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    I had my stroke when I was 31 years old, definitely not fitting the mold of who is at risk. But, I’ve realized there really isn’t a clear cut picture of who is at risk. But there are people more likely to have a stroke than others.

    While anyone can have a stroke, African Americans are among those least aware of stroke risk factors. This is horrible considering blacks have almost twice the risk of first-ever strokes compared to whites. Blacks have higher death rates for stroke compared to whites. And high blood pressure in African Americans in the United States is among the highest in the world.

    High blood pressure is the most important risk factor for stroke. It’s often called the “silent killer” because it usually has no symptoms. It affects 40 percent of African American men. It’s important to have your blood pressure checked at least once every two years and more often if you have a family history of high blood pressure.

    Other preventative measures you can take, are to watch your diet and exercise. In fact, the American Stroke Association is helping with its newest magazine cookbook, Soul Food Recipes. The 96-page publication offers African Americans 43 easy-to-follow, heart healthy recipes that follow the American Heart Association’s dietary recommendations.

    The cookbook is part of the American Stroke Association’s Power to End Stroke, an aggressive education and awareness initiative that gives African Americans a fighting chance to prevent a stroke.

    Yolanda King, daughter of the late Coretta Scott King and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is the spokesperson for the Power to End Stroke initiative. She says African Americans should “not just ‘survive,’ but ‘thrive’ by doing their part to make the right health choices for themselves, their families and their communities to prevent and overcome stroke.”

    Click here to register and receive a free cookbook!
Published On: August 07, 2006