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Stroke Facts

Image of a brain.

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.

Learn more about stroke and its risk factors. It’s important for everyone to know the facts about stroke [PDF-271K].

Stroke in the United States

  • Stroke kills almost 130,000 Americans each year—that’s 1 out of every 19 deaths.1
  • On average, one American dies from stroke every 4 minutes.2
  • Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke.
  • About 610,000 of these are first or new strokes.
  • About 185,00 strokes—nearly one of four—are in people who have had a previous stroke.2
  • About 87% of all strokes are ischemic strokes, when blood flow to the brain is blocked.2
  • Stroke costs the United States an estimated $36.5 billion each year.2 This total includes the cost of health care services, medications to treat stroke, and missed days of work.
  • Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability.2

Stroke Risk Varies by Race and Ethnicity

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death for Americans, but the risk of having a stroke varies with race and ethnicity. Risk of having a first stroke is nearly twice as high for blacks than for whites, and blacks are more likely to die following a stroke than are whites.2 Hispanics’ risk for stroke falls between that of whites and blacks.2 American Indians, Alaska Natives, and blacks are more likely to have had a stroke than are other groups.3

Stroke Risk Varies by Age

Although stroke risk increases with age, strokes can—and do—occur at any age. In 2009, 34% of people hospitalized for stroke were younger than 65 years.4

Stroke Deaths Vary by Geography

The country's highest death rates from stroke are in the southeastern United States.2 Below is a map showing the prevalence of stroke across the United States.

Source: Interactive Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke

Early Action Is Important for Stroke

Know the warning signs and symptoms of stroke so that you can act fast if you or someone you know might be having a stroke. The chances of survival are greater when emergency treatment begins quickly.

  • In a 2005 survey, most respondents—93%—recognized sudden numbness on one side as a symptom of stroke. Only 38% were aware of all major symptoms and knew to call 9-1-1 when someone was having a stroke.5
  • Patients who arrive at the emergency room within 3 hours of their first symptoms tend to have less disability 3 months after a stroke than those who received delayed care.6

Americans at Risk for Stroke

An elderly man and woman with a wheelchair.

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking are major risk factors for stroke. About half of Americans (49%) have at least one of these three risk factors.7 Several other medical conditions and unhealthy lifestyle choices can increase your risk for stroke.

Although you can’t control all of your risk factors for stroke, you can take steps to prevent stroke and its complications.

CDC Fact Sheets Related to Stroke

References

  1. Kochanek KD, Xu JQ, Murphy SL, Miniño AM, Kung HC. Deaths: final data for 2009. Nat Vital Stat Rep. [PDF-241K] 2011;60(3).
  2. Go AS, Mozaffarian D, Roger VL, Benjamin EJ, Berry JD, Blaha MJ, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2014 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2014 ;128.
  3. CDC. Prevalence of stroke — United States, 2006–2010. MMWR. 2012;61(20):379–82.
  4. Hall MJ, Levant S, DeFrances CJ. Hospitalization for stroke in U.S. hospitals, 1989–2009 [PDF-322K]. NCHS data brief, No. 95. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics; 2012.
  5. Fang J, Keenan NL, Ayala C, Dai S, Merritt R, Denny CH. Awareness of stroke warning symptoms—13 states and the District of Columbia, 2005. MMWR. 2008;57(18):481–5.
  6. The ATLANTIS, ECASS, and NINDS rt-PA Study Group Investigators. Association of outcome with early stroke treatment: pooled analysis of ATLANTIS, ECASS, and NINDS rt-PA stroke trials. Lancet. 2004;363:768–74.
  7. CDC. Vital signs: awareness and treatment of uncontrolled hypertension among adults—United States, 2003–2010. MMWR. 2012;61(35):703–9.

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