"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

CDC report: Racial disparities in stroke rates proceed to grow

April 21, 2023 – For many years, black people died of strokes more often than white people. But in the primary two years of the pandemic, the difference increased by one other 22%.

In latest figures from CDC Today, an estimated 3,835 black people have died of strokes who might need survived if pre-pandemic stroke trends had continued.

Stroke is the fifth largest Cause of death within the USA. The stroke rate has also increased amongst white people through the pandemic.

From 2015 to 2019, the typical stroke rate for whites was 70 per 100,000 and for blacks it was just over 101 per 100,000. The average stroke rate for 2020 and 2021 was 74.6 for whites and 112.6 for blacks per 100,000 people. The calculations reported by the CDC were for adults ages 35 and older.

The report is the newest to indicate that the health of individuals of color has been disproportionately affected through the pandemic.

“Any health inequalities that existed before appear to have increased during the pandemic,” said Mayo Clinic stroke expert Bart Demaerschalk, MD The Associated Press“This is another example of that.”

The CDC researchers said the brand new data “underscore the importance of identifying the key factors contributing to the widening disparities… and developing tailored interventions to reduce disparities and improve health equity in stroke mortality between black and white adults.”

They found that hypertension and diabetes specifically pose an increased risk of stroke for black people.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a significant change in the health care delivery of patients with hypertension and may have exacerbated existing disparities in the treatment and control of hypertension among people of color,” the CDC researchers explained. “The lower number of emergency department visits and hospitalizations for stroke, partly due to fear of SARS-CoV-2 infection (particularly during the early phase of the pandemic), suggests that delayed stroke treatment and care may have led to worse stroke outcomes and increased risk of death.”

A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked or a blood vessel within the brain bursts. This may cause brain damage, long-term disability, or death. Warning signs include a drooping face, weak arms, and difficulty speaking. Anyone with these symptoms needs immediate medical attention.

The CDC researchers also said the pandemic's impact on mental health, physical activity, weight-reduction plan and sleep quality “may have disproportionately affected individuals of color, leading to an increased risk of stroke.” Another likely factor was that the disease attributable to COVID-19 is itself related to an increased risk of stroke, and Black people were disproportionately infected with the virus.