American Stroke Association: Stroke statistics

•Nearly 800,000 (approximately 795,000) people in the United States have a stroke every year, with about three in four being first-time strokes.
•Stroke is the No. 5 cause of death in the United States, killing nearly 130,000 people a year (128,978). That's one in every 20 deaths.
•Stroke is the No. 4 cause of death in Alabama. Alabama ranks in the top five for most stroke deaths in the United States.
•Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds.
•Every four minutes someone dies of stroke.
•Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability and the leading preventable cause of disability.
•More women than men have strokes each year, in part because women live longer.
•Estimates of the overall annual incidence of stroke in US children are 6.4 per 100,000 children (0 to 15 years), with approximately half being hemorrhagic strokes.
•87% of strokes are classified as ischemic. An ischemic stroke occurs when a clot or a mass blocks a blood vessel, cutting off blood flow to a part of the brain.
•African-Americans are more impacted by stroke than any other racial group within the American population.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer for all Americans, and stroke is also a leading cause of death. As frightening as those statistics are, the risks of getting those diseases are even higher for African-Americans.

High blood pressure is one of the most common conditions that increase the risk of stroke.

The prevalence of high blood pressure in African-Americans is the highest in the world. Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease and stroke, and it can cause permanent damage to the heart before you even notice any symptoms, that's why it is often referred to as the "silent killer." Not only is HBP more severe in blacks than whites, but it also develops earlier in life.

Research suggests African-Americans may carry a gene that makes them more salt sensitive, increasing the risk of high blood pressure. Your healthcare provider can help you find the right medication, and lifestyle changes can also have a big impact.