The Big Number: Blacks face four times higher risk of strokes than Whites, study finds


The chances of having a stroke in middle age are at least four times greater for Blacks than for Whites in the United States, according to research published in the journal Hypertension. It tracked the link between high blood pressure and stroke through roughly three decades of data on 5,079 people. They were followed from young adulthood through middle age. Among all participants, strokes were more than four times more common among people with elevated blood pressure at age 30 and nearly six times more common for such people by age 40. Health experts generally place much of the blame for strokes on high blood pressure, which over time damages blood vessels and can lead to their becoming blocked or bursting, causing a stroke. The researchers write that the findings illustrate “the remarkable increase in stroke risk in Black versus White young adults” and the need for increased blood pressure control, especially among young to middle-aged Black residents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Although the risk for stroke increases with age, these “brain attacks” do strike younger people as well. The American Stroke Association says that Blacks have a higher death rate from stroke than any other racial group, and more than two-thirds have at least one risk factor for stroke. In addition to high blood pressure, those risk factors include having diabetes, having high cholesterol, smoking and being overweight or obese. But better management of medical conditions and lifestyle changes, such as a healthier diet and more physical activity, could prevent up to 80 percent of strokes, according to the association.