The disparities in stroke, a leading cause of long-term disability, are largely due to lifestyle factors including obesity, high blood pressure and smoking, Fang said.
"Southern states have higher rates of obesity, smoking and hypertension, which are all risk factors for stroke," she said.
This is also true for blacks and American Indians/Alaska Natives, and people with lower levels of education, Fang said.
Dr. Ralph Sacco, chair of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said it is "reassuring that some of our stroke prevention efforts seem to be working."
However, he said, "The disparities in stroke prevalence by age, race and education continue to highlight the importance of stroke in certain segments of our population who need more intensive stroke prevention and treatment efforts."
Sacco noted that with an aging U.S. population, better data and monitoring will be needed to avoid higher rates of stroke in the future.
To learn more about stroke, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES:Jing Fang, M.D., epidemiologist, Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Ralph Sacco, M.D., professor and chairman, neurology, professor and chairman, stroke and clinical cerebral vascular diseases, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; May 25, 2012, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
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