U.S. Stroke Risk Mapped out Down to the County Level. (Atlas of Stroke Mortality)

Article excerpt

The Stroke Belt has been mapped out--in great detail.

For the first time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released data on stroke mortality broken down to the county level. The data, which are from 1991 to 1998, are further broken down by race and sex. Physicians can now access data for the county in which they practice via the CDC's Web site and get a good idea of the stroke risk facing patients in their area.

"The 'Atlas of Stroke Mortality' can serve as a blueprint for additional stroke-prevention activities," said Dr. Michele Casper, lead author of the atlas and an epidemiologist with the CDC's cardiovascular health branch.

The information could not come a moment too soon, said Dr. Ed Thompson, CDC's deputy director for public health services, as stroke kills about 165,000 Americans annually--making it the third leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease and cancer.

"We have in our hands today an important new tool to prevent the occurrence" of stroke in America, Dr. Thompson said at the press conference.

As expected, the risk of stroke is highest among adults living in the so-called Stroke Belt, which includes parts of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana, "Counties with the lowest stroke death rates are located primarily in the Southwest, the Great Plains, and the Northeast," Dr. Casper said at the press briefing.

The atlas also highlights geographic patterns of stroke deaths among the five major racial and ethnic groups. …