ATLANTA (AP) _ The first county-by-county atlas of U.S. stroke deaths confirmed in graphic detail Thursday that Southerners and blacks are more likely to die from strokes than other Americans.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report showed that blacks are 40 percent more likely to die of stroke than whites. South Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina had the highest rates of death by stroke, the third-leading cause of U.S. deaths after heart disease and cancer.
Northeastern states and Florida had the lowest stroke death rates.
The report, which covered data from 1991 to 1998, confirmed racial and ethnic disparities long known by doctors.
``We're really hoping that by showing the magnitude of the burden, our policy makers would be aided in making a decision in where to put resources in order to (prevent) death and disability,'' said Dr. George Mensah, chief of the CDC's heart disease and stroke prevention program.
Strokes affect 700,000 Americans every year, killing 165,000, the CDC said.
The overall stroke death rate for adults 35 and older was 121 per 100,000 people. The range among states varied from 89 per 100,000 people in New York to 169 per 100,000 in South Carolina.
The CDC said health officials can eliminate racial and geographic disparities by reducing blood pressure, smoking and weight problems among people in high risk groups.
Providing quick access to emergency care also is important, because the main drug to treat stroke is effective if given within three hours after a person shows symptoms, said Dr. David Hess, chairman and professor of neurology at the Medical College of Georgia.
But providing proper health care in rural areas can be difficult.
``We probably have excellent ways to prevent stroke, the problem is we can't deliver that care,'' Hess said. ``It's really appalling how bad it is.''