Uptick in US stroke deaths sets off alarms: CDC

September 7, 2017 by Steven Reinberg, Healthday Reporter

(HealthDay)—Progress in preventing stroke deaths in the United States has stalled after 40 years of decline, and may even be reversing, government health officials say.

Stroke deaths increased significantly among Hispanics and in the South between 2013 and 2015, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday.

"This report is a wake-up call because 80 percent of strokes are preventable," said lead author Quanhe Yang, a CDC research scientist.

"More than ever, we need to direct our efforts to reduce and improve the quality of care," he said.

According to prior research, is the most important preventable and treatable risk factor for stroke. But high cholesterol, smoking and physical inactivity play a role, too.

While stroke death rates declined 38 percent from 2000 to 2015, researchers said the average decline fell from nearly 7 percent between 2003 and 2006 to a 3 percent drop over the next eight years. Worse than that, from 2013 to 2015, there was a 2.5 percent annual increase, although researchers call that uptick "nonsignificant."

Each year, nearly 800,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke, and more than 140,000 die, Yang said. And many survivors face long-term disability.

According to CDC director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, "Every 40 seconds in the United States, someone has a stroke."

In addition, "stroke costs the nation $34 billion annually," she said during a noon news briefing Wednesday.

Multiple factors have slowed the decline in stroke deaths, Yang noted, including high rates of obesity and diabetes.

"More than one in three American adults are obese," Yang said. "Obesity causes high blood pressure." And about 30 million adults have type 2 diabetes, which is also a risk factor for stroke, he explained.

Americans are suffering strokes at younger ages now, too, the agency said.

"Despite popular belief, strokes don't only impact older people," said Robert Merritt, from CDC's division of heart disease and .

"Our data shows an increasing number of middle-aged adults having strokes, which can cause lifelong disability," Merritt said during the news conference.

Yang pointed out that behavior changes can reduce the odds of stroke and stroke deaths at all ages.

"To bring the stroke rate down, we need to adopt a healthy lifestyle and control risk factors," he said.

This includes not smoking, and eating a healthy diet low in salt and added sugar, and rich in fruits and vegetables. Stroke-free living also means being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight, Yang said.

And, he added, "if you have high blood pressure or diabetes, keep them under control."

Recognizing the signs of a stroke and knowing what to do about it also can save lives, Yang said.

Stroke is a medical emergency caused by a blockage in an artery leading to the brain or bleeding into the brain. Call 911 if symptoms occur and get to a hospital quickly, Yang said.

Those symptoms include face drooping, arm weakness or numbness, or speech difficulty.

"Hopefully, we can regain the momentum of a declining stroke death rate," Yang said.

Other key findings of the new CDC "Vital Signs" report include:

  • More blacks still die from stroke than any other racial or ethnic group.
  • Among Hispanics, stroke deaths increased 6 percent each year from 2013 to 2015.
  • In the South, rates of stroke death rose 4 percent from 2013 to 2015.
  • The decline in stroke rates slowed in 38 states and the District of Columbia from 2000 through 2015—not only in the swath across the South known as the "stroke belt."
  • Florida saw the rate of stroke deaths jump nearly 11 percent per year during the 2013-2015 period.

Fitzgerald said, "We have made great progress in reducing deaths over the past few decades, but this report shows it's time to increase our efforts. We cannot afford to be complacent when so many deaths can be prevented."

The report was published Sept. 6 in an early release of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Explore further: Teenage weight gain linked to increased stroke risk as an adult

More information: Quanhe Yang, Ph.D., research scientist, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Sept. 6, 2017, news conference with: Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., director, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Robert Merritt, division of heart disease and stroke prevention, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Sept 6, 2017, CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, "Vital Signs: Recent Trends in Stroke Death Rates - United States, 2000-2015"

For more on stroke prevention, visit the American Stroke Association.

Related Stories

Teenage weight gain linked to increased stroke risk as an adult

June 28, 2017
Kids who become overweight during their teenage years may be more likely to develop a stroke decades later than kids who did not become overweight during those years, according to a study published in the June 28, 2017, online ...

Stroke happens regardless of age, race or gender

May 16, 2016
May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke.

Pre-stroke risk factors influence long-term future stroke, dementia risk

July 14, 2016
If you had heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, before your first stroke, your risk of suffering subsequent strokes and dementia up to five years later may be higher, according to new research in the American ...

Prevention may be essential to reducing racial disparities in stroke

June 2, 2016
Blacks between the ages of 45 and 54 die of strokes at a rate that is three times greater than their white counterparts, according to the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study, which looked ...

More younger americans are suffering strokes: study

April 10, 2017
(HealthDay)—Strokes are typically associated with the elderly, but new research suggests that strokes are increasingly happening to Americans under 65.

Five fast things you should know about stroke

April 29, 2016
You don't need superpowers to be a hero when it comes to stroke, you just need to pay attention to the risk factors and know the warning signs.

Recommended for you

Laser device placed on the heart identifies insufficient oxygenation better than other measures

September 20, 2017
A new device can assess in real time whether the body's tissues are receiving enough oxygen and, placed on the heart, can predict cardiac arrest in critically ill heart patients, report researchers at Boston Children's Hospital ...

Metabolism switch signals end for healing hearts

September 19, 2017
Researchers have identified the process that shuts down the human heart's ability to heal itself, and are now searching for a drug to reverse it.

Beta blockers not needed after heart attack if other medications taken

September 18, 2017
A new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill finds beta blockers are not needed after a heart attack if heart-attack survivors are taking ACE inhibitors and statins. The study is the first to challenge ...

Which single behavior best prevents high blood pressure?

September 15, 2017
(HealthDay)—You probably already know that certain healthy lifestyle behaviors can reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure, but is any one behavior more important than the others?

RESPECT trial shows closing a small hole in heart may protect against recurrent stroke

September 13, 2017
A device used to close a small hole in the heart may benefit certain stroke patients by providing an extra layer of protection for those facing years of ongoing stroke risk, according to the results of a large clinical trial ...

Study shows so-called 'healthy obesity' is harmful to cardiovascular health

September 11, 2017
Clinicians are being warned not to ignore the increased cardiovascular health risks of those who are classed as either 'healthy obese' or deemed to be 'normal weight' but have metabolic abnormalities such as diabetes.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.