Cerebrovascular disease in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

Cerebrovascular disease refers to conditions which affect the blood vessels and flow of blood in the brain. Restricted blood flow caused by cerebrovascular disease can lead to temporary or permanent damage, with common symptoms including speech difficulty, nausea and vomiting, severe headache, confusion, numbness, dizziness, and vision problems. The most common condition associated with cerebrovascular disease is a stroke, but other conditions include aneurysms, vascular dementia, and subarachnoid hemorrhage. In 2016, cerebrovascular disease was the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, causing 37.3 deaths per 100,000 population.

In 2016, it was estimated that around 2.8 percent of adults in the U.S. had had a stroke at some point in their lives. Stroke is slightly more common among men than women, and one’s chances of experiencing a stroke increases with age. Whereas only 0.6 percent of those aged 18 to 44 years had suffered a stroke, just over 11 percent of those aged 75 years and older had experienced such an event. Furthermore, those aged 65 years and older accounted for over 66 percent of all inpatient stroke cases in 2015.

Although cerebrovascular disease remains one of the leading causes of death in the United States, death rates from such conditions have decreased significantly for both men and women since the 1950s. Stroke death rates have also decreased for various ethnicities in the U.S. in the past decade. However, the death rate from stroke among African Americans remains much higher than among other ethnicities. Similarly, there are variations in stroke death rates among U.S. states, with the states with the highest death rates found in the South, giving rise to this region being called the stroke belt. In the period 2013 to 2015, Mississippi had the highest death rate from stroke of any U.S. state, followed by Alabama and Arkansas.

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