Each year, about 795,000 people in the United States have strokes, and of these incidents, 137,000 of the people die. About 610,000 of these cases are first strokes, and 185,000 people who survive a stroke will have another stroke within 5 years.
Ischemic strokes make up about 87% of all strokes. Hemorrhagic strokes make up the remaining 13%.
Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in the United States. People of all ages and backgrounds can have a stroke. However, some demographic factors put certain people at higher risk of stroke or death from stroke. These include:
- Race/ethnicity. African Americans have almost two times the risk of white people of having a first stroke. Hispanic Americans and American Indian/Alaska Natives are at greater risk than whites are for having a stroke but are at less risk than African Americans. African Americans and Hispanics are more likely than whites to die after having a stroke.
- Age. Stroke risk increases with age. Three-quarters of strokes occur in people ages 65 and older.
- Geography. The highest U.S. death rates from stroke occur in the southeastern United States.
- Gender. Men are more likely than women to have a stroke.
Certain lifestyle factors and conditions also increase the risk for stroke. The most important of these include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease (such as atrial fibrillation)
- Previous stroke or transient ischemic attack
- Cigarette smoking
Additional risk factors include:
- Physical inactivity
- Overweight or obesity
- High cholesterol
- Sickle cell disease
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Family history of stroke
- Drug abuse
- Genetic conditions, such as blood-clotting or vascular disorders (for example, Factor V Leiden or CADASIL)
- Certain medications (such as hormonal birth control pills)
- Being pregnant
Lesser risk factors include:
- Head and neck injuries
- Recent viral or bacterial infections
Amplification of risk occurs when a person has more than one of the risk factors listed above. This means that the combined risk of two or more risk factors is greater than simply adding their effects.1,2
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Stroke. Retrieved August 7, 2012, from http://www.cdc.gov/stroke/
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2012). Stroke: Hope through research. Retrieved August 7, 2012, from http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/stroke/detail_stroke.htm