Researchers analyzed the records of more than 84,000 stroke survivors discharged from hospitals in South Carolina between 2001 and 2010. They found that stroke hospitalizations among blacks younger than 65 jumped by more than 17 percent, but remained stable for whites younger than 65.
Blacks appeared more vulnerable to stroke at younger ages, too. According to the study, slightly more than half of the blacks hospitalized with stroke were younger than 65, compared with 30 percent of whites.
The study was published June 19 in the journal Stroke.
"Excess strokes among blacks, as well as the lingering racial disparity in the younger groups, represent a serious public health issue," lead author Dr. Wayne Feng, a stroke neurologist at the Medical University of South Carolina Stroke Center in Charleston, said in a journal news release.
The report had some good news for older people in South Carolina: the researchers found that stroke hospitalizations among blacks and whites 65 and older declined during the study period, and that the 30-day death rate from stroke also fell among all age and racial groups.
The greater stroke risk among blacks younger than 65 may be due to the fact that they're more likely to have such stroke risk factors as high blood pressure, diabetes, and to smoke, the researchers said.
"Our results show the importance of staying healthy, exercising and eating well, and starting these healthy habits while you are still young," Feng said.
"Combined with annual physician checkups to identify and treat diseases, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, at an early stage, these habits can help you prevent stroke down the road," he added.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about stroke prevention.