Minorities have higher stroke risks, stroke occurrence at an earlier age, and for some more severe strokes. Although certain risk factors for stroke, such as genetics or family history cannot be controlled, others such as high blood pressure or diabetes can go unrecognized. Knowing your risk factors for stroke and controlling them is the first step in preventing a stroke. Here is a closer look at stroke in different minority groups.
The statistics are staggering—in fact, African-Americans are more impacted by stroke than any other racial groups within the American population. African-Americans are twice as likely to die from stroke as Caucasians and their rate of first strokes is almost double that of Caucasians.
Strokes in this population tend to occur earlier in life. And as survivors, African-Americans are more likely to become disabled and experience difficulties with daily living and activities.
Why are African-Americans at higher risk?
Not all of the reasons are clear why African-Americans have an increased risk of stroke. However, research points to the following risk factors as major reasons:
- High blood pressure: The number one risk factor for stroke, and 1 in 3 African-Americans suffer from high blood pressure. They are also less likely to have it under control than their non-Hispanic Caucasian counterparts.
- Diabetes: People with diabetes have a higher stroke risk.
- Sickle cell anemia: The most common genetic disorder amongst African-Americans. If sickle-shaped cells block a blood vessel to the brain, a stroke can result.
- Smoking: Risk for stroke doubles when you smoke. If you stop smoking today, your stroke risk will immediately begin to decrease.
- Obesity: Adopting a lower-sodium (salt), lower-fat diet and becoming more physically active may help lower blood pressure and risk for stroke. They are also much less likely to engage in active physical activity.