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Blacks in the South have greater risk of dying from stroke

NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 2 African American men who live in southern states are at significantly higher risk of dying from stroke than African American men living elsewhere, researchers reported today at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2005.

Scientists already know that blacks' risk of death from stroke is greater than whites'. Studies also have shown that people who live in the southeastern states that comprise the "stroke belt" are more likely to die from stroke.

This study found that the combination of being an African American and living in the South could have even more deadly consequences than expected, said lead author George Howard, Dr.P.H., professor and chair, Department of Biostatistics, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health.

"When it comes to your risk of stroke, you get a penalty for being African American, you get a penalty for living in the South, and you get an 'extra' penalty for being an African American living in the South," said Howard.

Howard and colleagues looked at stroke death data from 1997 through 2001 and calculated stroke mortality rates by race, age and state. They compared the findings in southern states (defined in this study as the "stroke belt" states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee plus Florida and Virginia), to non-southern states with large black populations: California, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

"Knowing that African Americans die more of stroke than their white counterparts, we wanted to know if the difference was consistent across the nation, or if the magnitude of the African American excess mortality changes between regions," Howard said.

The researchers also compared the data by age group and found that the racial differences in stroke death were most pronounced between ages 45 and 64. With increasing age, the di
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Contact: Carole Bullock
carole.bullock@heart.org
214-706-1279
American Heart Association
2-Feb-2005


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