"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Stroke rates within the United States are falling, but racial inequality stays

Jan. 12, 2024 — Although stroke rates have declined overall within the United States, black adults still suffer strokes at higher rates and at younger ages than white adults, says a study published this week within the journal neurology.

“We found that stroke rates are decreasing over time in both blacks and whites—a very encouraging trend for U.S. prevention efforts,” said study writer Tracy E. Madsen, MD, of Brown University said in a press release.

“But there was a disparity from the start of the study, with stroke rates consistently higher among black people than their white counterparts. Inequality has not decreased in 22 years, particularly among younger and middle-aged adults.”

Brown University researchers examined stroke data from 1993 to 2015 from hospitals in Ohio and Kentucky.

Overall, the stroke rate fell from 230 cases per 100,000 to 188 cases. But stroke rates amongst blacks remained 50 to 80 percent higher than amongst whites throughout the study period, even after adjusting for age and gender.

Among blacks, the speed rose from 349 to 311 per 100,000 people. For whites, the speed rose from 215 to 170 per 100,000.

The study found that strokes occurred at younger ages in blacks than in whites.

The average age of a primary stroke amongst blacks increased from 66 initially of the study to 62 at the tip of the study. For whites it rose from 72 to 71 years.

Madsen noted that the study didn't examine social aspects corresponding to systemic racism and access to preventative care that contributed to this gap.

“These disparities represent a major ongoing public health problem,” Madsen said within the news release. “Clearly more work is needed to address systemic and policy issues, as well as provider and patient-level factors. These findings are a clear and urgent call for concrete efforts to build more equitable stroke prevention and care policies.”