Understanding the Higher Risk of Stroke in the African American Community

Lauren Baxter

By Lauren Baxter

Published February 9, 2024

In the United States, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds, as reported by the CDC. This medical emergency happens when the blood supply to the brain is either blocked or a blood vessel in the brain bursts, leading to a lack of oxygen. Recognizable signs of a stroke include facial drooping, weakness, or paralysis on one side of the body.

Impact on the African American Community

Data from the American Stroke Association reveals that strokes disproportionately affect the African American community when compared to other racial groups in the U.S. According to the Office of Minority Health, Black women are twice as likely to experience a stroke compared to white women, while Black men are 70% more likely to succumb to a stroke than white men. Medical professionals attribute this distressing trend to genetic factors and the higher prevalence of underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity among African Americans.

Prevention and Misconceptions

Dr. Donna Newsome from Texas Health Plano emphasizes the importance of self-care and regular medical check-ups. She stresses the significance of paying attention to one's body, heeding the advice of healthcare providers, and prioritizing prevention. Dr. Newsome also dispels the misconception that strokes only affect older individuals, citing the case of Snoop Dogg's daughter, Cori Broadus, who suffered a severe stroke at the age of 24. Dr. Newsome advocates for proactive measures such as consistent medical consultations, a balanced diet, and regular physical activity to mitigate the risk of strokes.

Key Preventive Measures

Highlighting the impact of lifestyle choices on stroke risk, Dr. Newsome underscores the significance of a healthy diet and regular exercise. Despite the widely known recommendations for physical activity, she acknowledges the challenge of adhering to these guidelines. However, she emphasizes the tangible benefits of these measures in reducing the risk of strokes.

Recognizing Stroke Symptoms

To aid in the prompt identification of a stroke, it is crucial to remember the acronym F.A.S.T., which stands for: F - face drooping, A - arm weakness, S - speech difficulty, T - time to call 911.