A brief descriptive analysis of stroke features in a population of patients from a large urban hospital in Richmond, Virginia, a city within the 'stroke belt'

Neuroepidemiology. Jan-Feb 2003;22(1):31-6. doi: 10.1159/000067104.


Purpose: To provide a descriptive analysis of the stroke features in a population of patients from a large urban hospital within the 'stroke belt', with the intention of stimulating interest in creating similar comprehensive databases across the country; the differential population features that may contribute to the increased incidence of ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke within the 'stroke belt' can thus be better studied and understood.

Background: Strokes account for approximately 5-10% of all deaths in the western world. Within a geographically nondescript region in the Southern United States known as the 'stroke belt', however, the incidence of stroke is 1.5-2 times greater than in other regions of the country. Despite the relatively high incidence of stroke within the 'stroke belt', very little information is available regarding the differential population features that distinguish stroke patients within this region from those in other parts of the country.

Design/methods: During the period September 1, 1995 to August 31, 1998, data for 506 patients meeting criteria for stroke as outlined in the National Survey of Stroke were entered into the 'Adult Brain Attack Database' at the Medical College of Virginia Hospitals of Virginia Commonwealth University. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics.

Results: Of the 506 patients entered into the database 281 experienced their first stroke during the data collection period. Of these individuals, 60.5% (n = 170) were female (mean age 60.6). The mean age in men presenting with new stroke (n = 111) was 62.5. African-Americans represented the predominant ethnic group making up 63.3% (n = 178) of all first stroke patients. The three most common risk factors among deceased ischemic stroke patients (3.2%; n = 9) included hypertension (58.3%), alcohol abuse (41.6%) and cigarette smoking (33.3%). Among ischemic stroke survivors, the three most common risk factors included hypertension (53.6%), prior neurovascular disease (36.2%) and cigarette smoking (28.0%). Risk factors among hemorrhagic stroke patients included hypertension (42.0%), cigarette smoking (26.3%) and alcohol abuse (21.1%). The most common complication associated with stroke across all subtypes was hypertension with an overall prevalence of 9.3%. The use of antiplatelet and antihypertensive therapy at discharge among stroke patients in whom such data was recorded was 58.8% (179/289) and 48.9% (132/270), respectively.

Discussion: Future studies comparing data from the Richmond, Va. stroke database with data from other regions of the country outside the 'stroke belt' may allow for differentiation of the population features that contribute to the increased prevalence of stroke within the 'stroke belt'.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Urban / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Stroke / epidemiology*
  • Stroke / etiology
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Virginia / epidemiology