Blacks Have Higher Stroke Risk, Lower Awareness of Warning Signs

May 5, 2009

May is American Stroke Month 

Do you know if you’re at risk of having a stroke? If you don’t, you could be in a crowd you don’t want to join.

COLUMBIA, SC – May 1, 2009 – Only 31 percent of blacks (compared to 40 percent of whites) know the warning signs of stroke — despite being almost twice as likely to suffer one, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2009.

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association hopes to combat stroke’s staggering toll on U.S. blacks — more than 100,000 suffer a stroke each year — with its Power To End Stroke campaign that includes various initiatives to educate and empower African Americans to reduce their risks and improve their health.

“We have to make sure that people know the signs and symptoms of stroke because a person must get to the hospital as soon as possible to have a much higher chance of survival and avoiding potential disabilities,” said Jing Fang, M.D., the study’s lead author and an epidemiologist in the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at the CDC in Atlanta, Ga.

“We were really surprised to see that people who have had a stroke were less aware of symptoms than those who had not had a stroke.” People who have suffered a stroke or even a heart attack are at increased risk for another one.

May is American Stroke Month and there are several ways you can get involved and educate yourself about stroke.

Power To End Stroke’s Website
Visit the Power To End Stroke Website and check out the new look at

30,60,90 Day Exercise Calendar for Power To End Stroke
During May, Power To End Stroke will launch a new web-based exercise program!  This program is intended to get people up and moving and starts at a beginner’s level.  The program will have a 30 day workout plan that builds into a 60 day and 90 day lifestyle change.  It includes walking and light weights, something everyone can do!  This great new tool will be available soon from the homepage of the new website. 

FYI: Power To End Stroke is now on Facebook
Sign up for Facebook to connect with American Heart Association – Power To End Stoke fans at:

Only 37 percent of all respondents knew all five warning signs and knew to call 9-1-1 immediately if any occurred. The warning signs of stroke are:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause 

The Bristol-Myers Squibb/Sanofi Pharmaceuticals partnership is the national sponsor of Power To End Stroke.

About the American Stroke Association

Created in 1997 as a division of the American Heart Association, the American Stroke Association works to improve stroke prevention, diagnosis and treatment to save lives from stroke — America’s No. 3 killer and a leading cause of serious disability.  To do this, we fund scientific research, help people better understand and avoid stroke, encourage government support, guide healthcare professionals, and provide information to stroke survivors and their caregivers to enhance their quality of life.  To learn more, call 1-888-4STROKE or visit