Stroke: By the numbers

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Several facts and figures demonstrate the prevalence of stroke.

Often referred to as a “heart attack of the brain,” strokes are the fifth leading cause of death and the leading cause of long-term disability in adults.

A very serious medical emergency, strokes occur when blood flow in the brain is interrupted — either through a blockage or burst vessel — depriving it of oxygen, rapidly killing brain cells.

Potentially life-threatening, the prevalence of stroke is on the rise in the United States.


Strokes every year in the United States


Strokes every year suffered by a patient who has previously had a stroke


Stroke-related deaths in the United States every year

1 in 19

Deaths attributed to stroke


Percentage of stroke that are ischemic (blockage) as opposed to hemorrhagic (burst blood vessel)

40 seconds

Amount of time between stroke occurrences in the United States

3 minutes and 30 seconds

Amount of time between stroke-related deaths in the United States


Percentage of hospitalized stroke patients under age 65


Likelihood of African Americans experiencing a stroke

Remember to B.E. F.A.S.T.

Call 911 if you see the symptoms of a stroke in yourself or someone around you.


Balance – Watch for a sudden loss of balance


Eyes – Is there a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes? Or double vision?


Face – Smile and check to see if one side of the face droops


Arm – Raise both arms and see if one arm drifts downward


Speech – Repeat a simple sentence and check to see if words are slurred or the sentence is repeated incorrectly


Time – If a person shows any of these symptoms, it is important to get to the hospital as quickly as possible, so immediately call 911.