Strokes are on the rise in the U.S., reversing a trend of more than four decades of decline, according to a new report.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report Wednesday that shows an increase in strokes by a 2.5 percent nationwide. The report states that about 800,000 people experience a stroke each year, with more than 140,000 of them fatal.

The data used from 2013-15 shows a 1.6 percent annual increase during that time period among blacks. Latinos went by nearly 6 percent per year around the same time, according to the report.

“This report is a wake-up call,” Quanhe Yang, one of report’s authors, said in an interview. “Up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable. More than ever we need to reduce the risk factors of strokes. Everyone one of us can help.”

Yang suggested people live healthy lifestyles that would reduce high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. Those ailments are often contributing factors to strokes, he said.

The research by Yang and the other authors is based on data from the U.S. Census and the National Vital Statistics System between 2000-15.

Although the overall death rate in strokes declined by 38 percent during those years, about 38 states either slowly decreased, remained steady, or slightly increased.

Seventeen states in the South region — where Census data from 2015 shows the highest concentration of blacks — had an uptick in the stroke death rate, going from a 3.3 percent decrease between 2006-13 to a 4.2 percent increase from 2013-15, according to the report.

Florida and the District of Columbia showed the largest increase — greater than 10 percent between 2013-15.

During the same period, Maryland and Virginia showed an increase of 1.5 percent and 2.5 percent decline, respectively.

A representative with the D.C. Health Department could not be reached for comment.

Officials produced a 2010-15 obesity plan slated to decrease ailments such as high blood pressure, hypertension and stroke. It also mentioned how residents in certain wards didn’t have access to quality foods at grocery stores.

Last month, D.C. Council member Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7) met with Safeway executives one week prior to an unannounced visit and discovered spoiled meat and moldy produce.

The Prince George’s County Health Department in Maryland partners with various agencies to encourage healthy lifestyles among its more than 900,000 residents.

One free program, “Wellness: Dine and Learn,” offers tips and teaches about nutrition, health education and physical activity. The next session takes place Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. at the Suitland Community Center in Forestville.

“These programs and initiatives are examples of the dedicated efforts of the Health Department to improve the health and wellness of our community,” the county’s Health Officer Pamela Creekmur said in a statement Saturday, Sept. 9. “Our goal is that the positive outcomes of these programs will contribute to lowering risk factors for strokes and save Prince George’s County lives.”

The report doesn’t give reasons for the reversal, but states that nearly one-third of adults between ages 35 to 64 died of strokes.

To assess someone who may be experiencing a stroke, Yang suggests using the F.A.S.T. checklist of warning signs, outlined by The National Stroke Association of Centennial, Colorado, as:

• Face: A person can check to see if a face droops;

• Arms: Asks the person to raise both arms;

• Speech: Is a person’s speech slurred, or sound strange when talking; and

• Time: Call 911 and note the time when symptoms occur.

Yang said a balanced diet, exercise and keeping diabetes under control reduces the risk of strokes.

“Eat less salt [and] less added sugar. Eat more fruits and vegetables,” Yang said. “A healthy diet will help you to reduce the stroke risk factors, especially among younger children if they start a healthy lifestyle early.”

To view the CDC report, go to

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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