Why Are Blacks More Likely To Die From Stroke?

African American older man stressed

In a study recently published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke, investigators in the REasons for Geographical And Racial Differences in Stroke Study, or REGARDS, found that blacks are four times more likely to die of stroke at age 45 than their white counterparts because blacks have more strokes, not because blacks who have a stroke are more likely to die than whites who have a stroke.

Important insights from the study and risk factors that lead to stroke indicate changes that are needed in Americans’ health habits and in primary health care to reduce the excess number of deaths from stroke in the black population.

“Since the driving force of the racial difference in stroke deaths is the larger number of strokes in blacks, to reduce this disparity we have to focus on factors prior to the stroke’s ever happening,” said George Howard, Dr.P.H., lead author and professor of biostatistics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. “We need to do more to focus on prevention and control of risk factors before they result in a stroke. While it is important to ensure that blacks and whites receive the same care once a stroke happens, any differences in care once the stroke happens do not appear to be the reason that blacks die more from stroke.”

Most research focuses on treating stroke patients and preventing recurrent stroke. Few studies look at whether an elevated stroke rate in blacks is the predictor for more stroke deaths.