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Stroke Hits Black Americans at Younger Ages Than Whites
  • Posted January 11, 2024

Stroke Hits Black Americans at Younger Ages Than Whites

Black Americans have strokes nearly a decade younger on average than white people, a new study has found.

The study also revealed that Black people consistently had a higher rate of stroke than white folks over a 22-year period, according to findings published in the journal Neurology.

Overall, strokes have declined, regardless of race.

“We found that the rate of stroke is decreasing over time in both Black and white people -- a very encouraging trend for U.S. prevention efforts,” said study author Dr. Tracy Madsen. She's associate professor of emergency medicine and epidemiology at Brown University in Providence, R.I.

However, "there was an inequity from the beginning of the study, with the rate of stroke always being higher for Black people than their white counterparts,” she continued. “The disparity did not decrease in 22 years, especially among younger and middle-aged adults.”

For the study, researchers evaluated data on stroke cases gathered from hospitals in southern Ohio and northern Kentucky from 1993 to 2015.

The overall rate of stroke dropped during that period, from 230 strokes per 100,000 people in 1993 to 188 cases per 100,000 in 2015.

Strokes among Black people declined from 349 to 311 cases per 100,000 during that time, while strokes among white folks dropped from 215 to 170 per 100,000.

So, the rate of stroke among Black people continued to be 50% to 80% higher than that of whites across the two decades, even after adjusting for age and sex.

Over time, strokes occurred at younger ages, researchers found, and the change was larger in Black people than in their white counterparts.

Strokes struck Black people at an average age of 62 by 2015, a significantly younger age than the average age of 66 observed in 1993. By comparison, the average age of stroke for white people was 72 at the beginning of the study and 71 two decades later.

“These disparities present a major ongoing public health concern,” Madsen said. “More work is clearly needed to address systemic and policy problems, as well as factors at the provider and patient levels. These findings are a clear, urgent call for concrete efforts to build more equitable means of stroke prevention and care.”

More information

The American Stroke Association has more about Black Americans and stroke.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, Jan. 10, 2024

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