Geriatrician, Hospitalist, Patient Advocate, Healthcare Educator

What Is the Stroke Belt?

Interesting enough where you live in the United States may put you at a higher risk for strokes. The stroke belt or stroke alley consists of the Southeastern United States and has been associated with higher stroke prevalence. The rate of stroke is about 30% to 40% higher in this region. These include the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Per Twenty years of progress toward understanding the Stroke Belt, some of the contributers to the stroke belt included:

  • Poor dietary intake-fried foods, meats, processed food, added fats, sugar-sweetened beverages, bread
  • Higher risk factor burden
  • Higher levels of inflammation and infection
  • Lower socio-economic status
  • Lifestyle choices

About 80% of strokes are preventable and working on preventing and treating the risk factors such as diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity is important. Also, recognizing the signs of stroke and seeking medical attention quickly can make a difference.

May is stroke awareness month and therefore is a good time to evaluate what can be done to reduce the risk of stroke… be it getting back to losing weight, eating healthier, taking medications consistently, or watching that sugar intake. What we do today can change our tomorrow for the better.