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Study: Stroke Risk Higher in American South

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

While doctors have long been identifying the physical factors that contribute to an increased risk of stroke, a new study suggests the geographic location could also play a role.

According to a report published in the December 1 issue of Neurology, people born in the "stroke belt", which spans the southern U.S., consistently have a higher risk of dying of stroke than other Americans - even if they relocate later in life, HealthDay News reports.

The phenomenon extends to both blacks and whites born in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama.

Specifically, both black and white natives of the "stroke belt" were 34 percent more likely to die from a stroke in 2000 than their counterparts in other areas.

Though the trend has been recognized for more than 30 years, researchers are unsure of its cause.

M. Maria Clymour, assistant professor in the Harvard School of Public Health told the news source, "We don't think it's genetic. The hypotheses we have include the effect of social environment, what people eat and their access to medical care. There may be some element of socioeconomic risk."

According to the National Stroke Association, strokes are the third leading cause of death in the U.S., though testing for high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol can help determine risk factors.

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