US stroke rate varies by state

The rate of adults having strokes hasn’t changed much in recent years, and there are still disparities in stroke rates across the U.S., according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In 2010, 2.6 percent of adults in the U.S. said they had suffered a stroke, down slightly from 2.7 percent in 2006, the report said. Strokes are the fourth-leading cause of death in the U.S., and they are also a leading cause of long-term severe disability.

However, higher stroke rates were seen among people of American Indian or Native Alaskan ethnicity (5.9 percent), people without a high school diploma (4.6 percent), and people living in the South, where the rates in most states are between 3 and 4 percent.

CDC researchers looked at the stroke rate in each state; this information helps health officials to target resources where they are needed most, the report said.

The state with the highest stroke rate in 2010 was Alabama, with 4.1 percent of adults having suffered a stroke. Higher rates were also seen in Oklahoma (3.9 percent), Arkansas (3.8 percent), Mississippi (3.8 percent), Missouri (3.6 percent) and South Carolina (3.4 percent).

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is the leading risk factor for stroke and is more prevalent in the southeast U.S., the report said.

The states with the lowest stroke rates included Connecticut (with 1.5 percent), Colorado, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming (all with 1.8 percent).

Two states had declines in their stroke rate between 2006 and 2010 — Georgia's rate dropped from 3.3 percent to 2.8 percent, and South Dakota's rate dropped from 2.2 percent to 1.8 percent.

Adults over age 65 were 10 times more likely to have a stroke than people between the ages of 18 and 44, the report said.

The report is based on data gathered on landline telephone surveys conducted of households in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. There were between 350,000 and 450,000 participants each year between 2006 and 2010.

The findings were limited in that the data do not include people in nursing homes or long-term care facilities, which may lead to an underestimate of stroke prevalence, the researchers said.