Stroke is a type of cardiovascular disease. It affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it starts to die.
When part of the brain dies from lack of blood flow, the part of the body it controls is affected. Strokes can cause paralysis, affect language and vision, and cause other problems. Treatments are available to minimize the potentially devastating effects of stroke, but to receive them, one must recognize the warning signs and act quickly.
Stroke is the third single leading cause of death in Illinois and accounts for 18 percent of all deaths due to cardiovascular disease (CVD) (Figure 1).
Figure 1 . Leading Causes of Death, Illinois, 2003
Illinois ’ stroke age-adjusted mortality rates have closely matched rates for the United States for the last 20 years.
Among adults ages 35 years and older, t he age-adjusted stroke mortality rate in 2002 for Illinois is 111.4/100,000 compared to 109.3/100,000 for the United States.*
Differences in stroke age-adjusted mortality rates are most notable between age groups and race groups (Figure 2). Stroke age-adjusted mortality rates for men (120.9/100,000) are 7.0 percent greater than for women (113.0/100,000). In 2003, more than 6,800 adults ages 35 years and older died from stroke in Illinois. Many more women (4,260) died from stroke than men (2,585).**
Figure 2: Stroke Age-adjusted Mortality Rates by Gender and Race
Although more than 5,800 whites in Illinois died from stroke, compared to 959 African Americans and 85 of other races, stroke age-adjusted mortality rates for African Americans are 27.8 percent greater than for whites, and 96.3 percent greater than for other races.** Noticeable differences are also found in race gender groups.
African-American men have stroke age-adjusted mortality rates that are 43.7 percent higher than for white men, and African-American women have stroke age-adjusted mortality rates that are 15.5 percent greater than those for white women.
Stroke mortality affects older populations (65+ years) disproportionately compared to younger populations (35-64 years). In 2003, only 11 percent of all stroke deaths were among those ages 35-64.** The stroke age-adjusted mortality rate for those older than 65 years was 402.5/100,000 compared to 15.8/100,000 for those ages 35-64 years. Furthermore, of the total 6,845 deaths in Illinois due to stroke among those 35 years and older in 2003, approximately 6,000 were older than 64 years of age.**
Signs/Symptoms of Stroke
One of the factors known to adversely influence the outcome of stroke event is the time between the onset of symptoms and receiving treatment. The three stages at which time delays can occur are between the onset of symptoms and the call for help, during pre-hospital care and during transportation.
One of the factors demonstrated to play an important role in reducing the time delay between the onset of a stroke and accessing emergency care is the public awareness of the signs and symptoms of stroke.***&****
The Warning Signs for a Stroke are:
Approximately 51 percent of adults in Illinois can correctly recognize five to six signs and symptoms of a stroke (figure 3). Men (52.6 percent) and women (49.6 percent) are similar in their abilities to recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke. Approximately 41 percent of adults ages 18-29 recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke, compared to 44.7 percent of those 70 years and older, and approximately 60 percent of those between the ages of 40 and 69 years.
Figure 3. Percentage of Adults Who Can Correctly Identify Five to Six Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke
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