The Stroke Belt

Majid Ali, M.D.

The Stroke Belt in the United States is region with a higher incidence of stroke than other regions of the country. This region includes the following eight southern states of the U.S.: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Two recent federally supported studies published in Annals of Neurology showed that risk of memory loss and cognitive declines was significantly higher in people in the stroke belt as compared with those outside that belt. Specifically, of nearly 24,000 participants followed for four years, 1,090 in eight stroke-belt states showed signs of cognitive decline, compared with 847 people in 40 other states.

Consider the words of Joseph P. Broderick, chairman of neurology at the University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute” “Those behaviors that prevent stroke likely will prevent some but not all of the things that cause cognitive decline.”

As of October 2010, 8.2 percent of stroke-belt participants showed signs of cognitive decline; 8 percent of participants in other areas did. The small difference was nonetheless significant in such a large study.

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