Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in America, yet it disproportionately affects one subset of the population.1 According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 50% more likely to have a stroke compared to their white counterparts. Black men in particular are 70% more likely to die from a stroke compared to non-Hispanic white men.2 However, strokes are preventable and treatable.3 Taking the time to learn about the preexisting health conditions and lifestyle choices that increase the risk of stroke could help you or a loved one make the change you need to avoid tragedy.

What is a stroke?

A stroke, also known as a brain attack, occurs when blood supply is blocked from part of the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. During a stroke, the cells in the blocked part of your brain are not receiving blood and oxygen. Without the two, the cells begin to die.3 Depending on the severity, a stroke can result in lasting brain damage, long-term disability, or even death.2 On average, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds.1 

How do I know if I’m at risk?

Over two-thirds of Black Americans have at least one risk factor for stroke.1 A risk factor is a preexisting condition that makes a person more likely to experience a medical issue. For stroke, risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure. Over 55% of Black American adults have high blood pressure.4
  • Obesity. Almost 70% of Black men and over 80% of Black women are overweight or obese.1 
  • Diabetes. Nearly 1 in 9 African American men have been diagnosed with diabetes.5
  • High cholesterol. Almost 30% of Black Americans have high cholesterol.1
  • Smoking. About 1 in 5 African American men smoke.5

How can I reduce my risk of stroke?

Having one or more risk factors does not mean you will have a stroke. However, you should consider any unhealthy habits and take steps to reduce your risk. Up to 80% of strokes may be prevented by making lifestyle changes and properly managing your medical conditions.1 You can do this by:

  • Improving your diet. Cut back on salt. African Americans may have a gene that increases sensitivity to sodium.1 Too much sodium can raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of stroke.6
  • Exercising regularly. Physical activity, such as going for a walk, bike ride, or jog, helps to control high blood pressure, strengthens your heart, and can help to prevent stroke.7 
  • Quitting smoking. Smoking doubles your risk of stroke.1 Throw out your pack today.
  • Talking to your doctor. Your doctor is the best person to advise you on how to manage your risk of stroke. Be sure to let your provider know if anyone in your family has had a stroke or if you have any risk factors.5

Stroke is preventable and treatable. Follow these small steps and lower your risk today.


Start the School Year Off Right and Schedule Your Child’s Well-Child Visit Today

The summer days are quickly coming to an end and back-to-school season is fast approaching.  Scheduling and making the trip to your child’s provider appointment can feel tiring. We are all busy, especially during the start of the school year. However, it’s important to visit your child’s primary care provider (PCP) to determine if your child is healthy.

Make sure to schedule your child’s well-child visit soon. Depending on their age, your child’s PCP will conduct different tests and exams. Try to make the visit around your child’s birthday. That way it is easy to remember.

The PCP will probably want to see your child at or around these ages:

  • 3 – 5 days old
  • 1 month
  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 9 months
  • 12 months (1 year)
  • 15 months
  • 18 months
  • 24 months (2 years)
  • Every year starting at age 3 – 21

Checkups are part of your child’s benefits with AmeriHealth Caritas District of Columbia. They should not cost you money. If you need help making an appointment or getting to the PCP’s office, call Enrollee Services at 1-800-408-7511 (TTY 1-800-570-1190). To learn more about well-child appointments, visit

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The information in this article is to help you learn more about this topic. It is not to take the place of your healthcare provider. If you have questions, talk with your healthcare provider. If you think you need to see your healthcare provider because of something you have read in this information, please contact your healthcare provider. Never stop or wait to get medical attention because of something you have read in this material.


  1. “Let’s Talk About Black Americans and Stroke,” American Stroke Association, 
  2. “Stroke and African Americans,” Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health,,compared%20to%20non%2DHispanic%20whites
  3. “About Stroke,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 
  4. “High Blood Pressure Among Black People,” American Heart Association, 
  5. “Men and Stroke,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 
  6. “Sodium and Health,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
  7. “Getting Active to Control High Blood Pressure,” American Heart Association,

All images are used under license for illustrative purposes only. Any individual depicted is a model

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