African Americans at higher risk of stroke

May 9, 2022

Risks of stroke vary by race and ethnicity, and African American men and women are more likely to have a stroke than any other population in the country, according to a news release.

Stroke is a medical emergency. Symptoms include difficulty speaking, paralysis or numbness in the face, arm or leg, difficulty seeing, difficulty walking or a sudden intense headache.

A stroke happens when blood supply to the brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients. This causes brain cells to become damaged or die.

According to the CDC, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds in the U.S. and is a leading cause of death and disability in the United States.

Everyone is at risk of stroke. But minorities are at greatest risk.

Maisha Robinson, a Mayo Clinic neurologist says, "We don’t understand exactly all the reasons behind this, but what we know is that the similar risk factors for stroke, which are apparent in the entire population, are more common, particularly in African Americans."

She says African Americans are not only at increased risk of having a stroke, but they're also at increased risk of being debilitated by or dying from a stroke.

"Knowing your numbers, being able to assess the situation and then addressing the situation with regard to blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, weight, diet is very important, especially in that population," says Robinson.

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