Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States with about 167,000 stroke-related deaths each year. Annually 500,000 Americans suffer a first-time stroke.
The greatest proportion of stroke deaths occurred among people aged 85 years or older (40.1 percent) followed by those aged 75-84 years (34.3 percent), those aged 65-74 years (14.4 percent) and those younger than 65 years (11.2 percent).
In 1999, almost 80,000 stroke deaths (47.6 percent) occurred before the patient was transported to the hospital or emergency room. Of those deaths, 52.2 percent were women and 40.3 percent were men.
Almost 25 percent of stroke related deaths among people aged less than 65 years occurred before being transported to a hospital or emergency room.
The proportion of stroke-related deaths occurring in the emergency room of the hospital was higher for African-Americans than other race groups.
Death rates from stroke ranged from 33.0 per 100,000 in New Hampshire to 83.3 in South Carolina. The proportion of deaths that occurred before reaching the hospital or emergency room ranged from 23.3 percent in District of Columbia to 67.3 in Oregon.
The major warning signs of stroke are sudden numbness or weakness; sudden dimness or loss of vision; sudden dizziness or loss of balance; sudden severe headache; and confusion or difficulty speaking.
The major risk factors for stroke are high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and smoking.
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