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High Risk of Stroke in Black Women

 

Black women are more likely to die from a stroke than non-Hispanic White women or Hispanic women, making it the highest death rate due to stroke among all ethnic and racial groups. In fact, it’s leading cause of death in black women in the United States.

It’s a shocking statistic that impacts over 21 million black women in our country today.

Why are Black Women at High Risk for Stroke?

The CDC attributes a few factors to why black women in the US are at a higher risk for having a stroke than white non-hispanic women. Knowing these risk factors can help you reduce your risk and improve your overall health.

 

  • High Blood Pressure
    • Almost 3 in 5 black women are diagnosed with high blood pressure, a much greater proportion than White women. 
    • Consumption of high levels of salt or sodium can contribute to high blood pressure 
  • Obesity
    • Similar to high blood pressure, nearly 3 in 5 black women are diagnosed with obesity which increases their risk of stroke
  • Diabetes
    • more than 1 in 8 black women are diagnosed with diabetes, another condition that greatly increases an individual’s risk of having a stroke
  • Sickle cell disease
    • Sickle cell disease is a common genetic disorder in black women. The CDC reports that about 1 in 365 African American babies a year are born with this genetic disorder.
    • Speak with your primary care physician to see if this applies to you and ways you can reduce your risk of stroke. 
  • Smoking 
    • Smoking can increase your risk of not only a stroke but a heart attack and lung disease. The CDC reports that about 1 in 8 African American women smoke. 
    • Check out Smoke Free to access free resources and support to help you or a loved one in their journey to quit smoking. 

How to Manage Your Risk

Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can manage or decrease your risk of stroke. 

 

  • Speak with your Doctor
    • The first step is to talk about your concerns with your primary care physician. They can help order the correct labs, monitor your health stats, and provide education and resources around any health concerns you may have
  • Stay Consistent with your Medicine
    • Staying consistent with your medicine, especially those specifically for diabetes or blood pressure, can help you stay healthy and mitigate your risk for stroke. This is especially important to maintain when you travel, during holidays, and even during major life changes (marriage, pregnancy, etc)
  • Make Lifestyle Changes
    • Eating healthy and exercising regularly are two ways you can help manage your risk for a stroke today!
    • Adaptive exercises, like chair yoga or pool gym classes, are great ways to start working out even if for beginners or those with limited mobility. 

Sources: American Heart Association; CDC – Women and Stroke; Black Demographics