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Black Americans Have Strokes Nearly a Decade Earlier Than White Americans

In Health, Sports
January 13, 2024

“These disparities present a major ongoing public health concern,” the study’s author Dr. Tracy Madsen told U.S. News

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A new study published in Neurology on Wednesday shows the stark difference in stroke rates between Black and white adults — and highlights at what ages those groups of patients tend to experience those strokes.

Researchers, who studied stroke trends from 1993 to 2015 in Ohio and Kentucky hospitals, discovered that the overall rate of strokes for all races decreased from 230 to 188 cases per 100,000 people.

“We did see a decrease in stroke incidence over the 22-year period in Black adults. We had not seen that in prior study periods,” the study’s author, Dr. Tracy Madsen, an associate professor of emergency medicine and epidemiology at Brown University, told CNN. “It’s just that the disparity is still there.”

The disparity, according to the study, was that the rate per 100,000 Black adults decreased from 349 to 311, while for white people the rate decreased from 215 to 170.

Madsen’s study also showed that strokes are affecting Black people 10 years younger than white people. The average age of white people experiencing strokes dropped from 72 to 71, while the average age of Black patients having strokes decreased from 66 to 62.

Related: New Blood Test Can Predict Preeclampsia — a Potentially Dangerous Pregnancy Complication — Within 30 Minutes

“These disparities present a major ongoing public health concern,” Madsen told U.S. News. “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.”

A woman named Leslie Jordan, who is Black, is an advocate for stroke awareness after suffering a stroke shortly after the birth of her son.

She told CNN that she was diagnosed with Preeclampsia — a condition that causes high blood pressure — during her pregnancy. After giving birth, she was in so much pain that she “felt like someone had set my body on fire.” Medications didn’t offer relief, and after two days, she had a stroke.

“I was fully paralyzed. I couldn’t really see, walk or talk. I couldn’t move,” Jordan told the outlet. “I didn’t get a chance to go through postpartum because I had to fight for my life to survive so I could walk and talk and be here today to be a mom to my son.”

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Jordan said she was so disoriented after her stroke.

“I didn’t know I had delivered,” she admitted. “I was just like, ‘Is this my baby?’”

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Five years later, Jordan said she continues to recover from her stroke, which is why she has dedicated her life to educating others about the signs and impacts of strokes.

Jordan told CNN it is important to get blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels checked.

“The reason why I’m such an advocate about this is because I don’t want what happened to me to happen to any other Black woman,” she said. “I want it to end with me.”

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