Very little attention is given to African American health especially in the area of stroke. The goal of this article is to correct that and address this health challenge to the African American community.
This article is designed give you an overview on strokes and why the African American community is at such great risk. It will also lay the ground work for why you have the power to make a positive impact on reducing this African American health risk.
You Have the Power to Make a Significant Change!
It is estimated that 750,000 Americans will experience a stroke this year. Of this number, 160,000 will die. The rest will forever have their lives changed in significant and profound ways.
African Americans are twice as likely to die from a stroke as Caucasians. The rate of having their first stroke is almost doubled that of Caucasians. One half of all African American women will die from either a stroke or heart disease. For those with sickle cell anemia, 11% will have experienced a stroke by the age of 20.
This African American health concern can be pretty depressing until you read the next line:
That’s not me saying this but the National Stroke Association. This statement means that 600,000 Americans could prevent their strokes from occurring. You have the power to make a significant difference in how this African American health concern affects our community. You can both prevent a stroke and lessen the damage from a stroke if you know what to do.
Why African Americans and Not Other Races?
Although all the exact reasons are not completely clear, when you look at the risk factors for stroke, the African American community has a higher rate of:
As you can see from the above list, African American health is compromised in several key areas. Before we look at which African American health risks are controllable and which ones are not, let’s make sure we understand what a stroke is.
What is a Stroke?
A stroke is really a “brain attack!” Just like a heart attack effects the heart, a stroke or “brain attack” affects the brain. Vital blood and oxygen to the brain cells are cut off resulting in some level of damage to the effected brain tissue. Most strokes happen when the artery or blood vessel is blocked by a blood clot or by the gradual build-up of plaque and other fatty deposits or by sickle cells which tend to sick together once they have changed into their sickle shape. In some cases, a stroke can occur when an artery or blood vessel ruptures at a weak spot.
Every stroke is different since it depends upon the area of the brain that has been affected and the amount of time that area has been without oxygen. Strokes are also classified according to their severity. A mini-stroke or TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) is a brief episode of stroke-like symptoms that can last from a few minutes to 24 hours. TIAs usually cause no permanent damage or disability but are serious warning signs of an impending stroke. It is estimated that 35% of people who experience a TIA will have another stroke. Statistically it breaks down this way:
Again, this can seem overwhelming and depressing until you remember that:
This means you can take steps on the front end to prevent a stroke. You can also take steps after you have had a stroke to prevent an additional one. The article “11 Action Steps on How to Prevent a Stroke!” will provide information on how to reduce this African American Health risk.
Risk Factors: Uncontrollable vs. Controllable!
Everyone has some level of risk for having a stroke. Some of the risk factors are controllable. Some of the risk factors are not. Let’s first look at the uncontrollable African American health risk factors for stroke:
As you can see from the above list, there are certain African American health factors that you have no control over. The good news is that you have multiple ways to offset the above uncontrollable risk factors.
For this article we are only going to list the African American health factors that you can control. The article, “11 Action Steps on How to Prevent a Stroke!” will go into greater depth. For now, here are the controllable risk factors:
Common Stroke Symptoms!
Learning these symptoms and knowing what to do when they occur could save your life or the life of someone else. (Note: The article, “Replace Your ABCs With STR And It Could Save Your Life When the Signs of a Stroke Occur!” is a must read.) These are the most common stroke symptoms:
If you have or see anyone who has these symptoms, then call 911 immediately. Time is critical in decreasing the effects of a stroke. Currently, there is a clot busting drug that can diminish the effects of a stroke. However, this drug only has a three-hour window to be effective. Once the stroke symptoms occur the clock starts ticking. Your quick response could be the difference between life or death, permanent disability or significant recovery.
Stroke is the number one cause of adult disability. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. For the African American health community, the effects of a stroke are significantly greater. But it’s important to remember what the National Stroke Association says,
Please join me in helping the African American community take a proactive step in reducing this health risk. Please email this article to a friend. In fact, make it your goal to share this with at least 5 others.
I would invite you to click on “Stroke Warning Sign – The STR Poster!” Print this poster and post it wherever people gather. You could save a life because you took a positive step to help improve African American health.
Until next time, may we both age youthfully!
P.S. To help you implement this information about stroke prevention I would recommend the following articles:
The information contained in this website and posted articles are for general information purposes only and never as a substitute for professional medical advice or medical exam. The information contained in this website and posted articles has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.