If You Live in This U.S. State, You Have the Highest Risk of Stroke

Strokes occur when brain cells start to die due to lack of oxygen. They’re one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and many of their risk factors are preventable. To evaluate whether or not you have the highest risk of stroke, you might have to consider where you’re currently living.

The following states have the highest rates of stroke risk factors and stroke mortality in the country. Most of them are part of something called the Stroke Belt, a specific section of the United States where strokes are much more common — and seemingly more deadly. You may be surprised by what states made the top three.

15. Virginia

charleston, west virginia

Virginia is relatively low on the list. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Death rate (2015): 38.0

Stroke was the fourth leading cause of death in the state of Virginia in the year 2015. Almost 3,400 people living in the state died as the result of stroke that year. Cancer and heart disease were also major causes of mortality in that state.

Next: High rates of heart disease also plague this state.

14. Missouri

Springfield Missouri

Still, a large number of people in Missouri die of stroke every year. | WorldExotc21/iStock/Getty Images

Death rate (2015): 40.8

Stroke was the fifth leading cause of death in the state of Missouri in 2015. Approximately 3,000 people living in this state died as the result of stroke that year. Heart disease, which shares many stroke risk factors like high LDL cholesterol, was the top cause of mortality.

Next: This is one of only a few midwestern states on the list.

13. Indiana

Indianapolis skyline at sunset

This state may surprise you. | RudyBalasko/iStock/Getty Images

Death rate (2015): 41.7

Stroke was the fourth leading cause of death in the state of Indiana in 2015. An estimated 3,100 people living in the state died of stroke that year.

Next: Cancer deaths in this state also run high.

12. Kentucky

Louisville, KY

This state has a slightly higher death rate from stroke. | toddtaulman/iStock/Getty Images

Death rate (2015): 41.8

Stroke was the fifth leading cause of death in the state of Kentucky in 2015. Approximately 2,000 people living in the state died that year as a result of complications related to stroke. Cancer was the leading cause of death in Kentucky that year.

Next: It’s not uncommon to also have high blood pressure if you live here.

11. Georgia

Dining hall at Berry College in Rome, Georgia

This state barely escaped the top 10 list. | iStock.com/RobHainer

Death rate (2015): 42.6

Stroke was the fifth leading cause of death in the state of Georgia in 2015. An estimated 4,000 people living in the state died as the result of stroke that same year. High blood pressure, another major risk factor, was prevalent in the state in 2015.

Next: Strokes killed more people than accidents here.

10. Texas

Courthouse Victoria Texas

This southern state made the top 10 list. | iStock.com/ LaVonna Moore

Death rate (2015): 42.7

Stroke was the third leading cause of death in the state of Texas in 2015. About 10,500 people living in the state died as the result of stroke that year. There were more stroke deaths than accidental deaths in 2015, which only accounted for a little over 10,000 total deaths.

Next: You might not expect this state to make the list.

9. Oklahoma

Bizzell Memorial Library at the University of Oklahoma

An estimated 1,900 people died as a result of stroke in 2015. | OU.edu

Death rate (2015): 43.0

Stroke was the fifth leading cause of death in the state of Oklahoma in 2015. An estimated 1,900 people living in the state died as the result of stroke that year.

Next: It’s a small state, but your risk is still higher.

8. West Virginia

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

This state is high on the list. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Death rate (2015): 43.8

Stroke was the fifth leading cause of death in the state of West Virginia in 2015. Approximately 1,080 people living in the state died that year as the result of complications related to stroke. Cancer and heart disease were the top causes of mortality in West Virginia in 2015.

Next: Maybe heading south isn’t worth it after all.

7. South Carolina

Charlotte, South Carolina

The addition of this state may surprise you. | MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/GettyImages

Death rate (2015): 44.2

Stroke was the fifth leading cause of death in the state of South Carolina in the year 2015. An estimated 2,400 people living in the state died as the result of stroke complications that year.

Next: Don’t move to any beach towns if you’re at high risk for stroke.

6. North Carolina

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

South Carolina’s northern neighbor also made the list. | Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Death rate (2015): 44.7

Stroke was the fourth leading cause of death in the state of North Carolina in the year 2015. About 5,000 people living in the state died due to stroke-related complications that same year. More died because of stroke than as the result of accidents.

Next: Kidney disease rates are also higher in this state than any other.

5. Louisiana

St-Johns Cathedral - Lafayette, Louisiana

Louisiana has a higher number of deaths by stroke. | artiste9999/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Death rate (2015): 45.6

Stroke was the fifth leading cause of death in the state of Louisiana in 2015. An estimated 2,230 people in this state died as the result of stroke that year. Louisiana also had the highest rate of kidney disease deaths in 2015 compared to the rest of the U.S.

Next: This southern state loses over 3,000 people to stroke every year.

4. Tennessee

downtown Nashville, Tennessee

Tennessee comes in a No. 4. | Sean Pavone/iStock/Getty Images

Death rate (2015): 45.8

Stroke was the fifth leading cause of death in the state of Tennessee in 2015. About 3,326 people in this state died as the result of a stroke that year. Alzheimer’s disease and pneumonia also appeared on Tennessee’s top causes of death.

Next: Many people in this state still smoke, increasing their risk.

3. Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama, USA

Alabama made the top three list of states with high stroke risk. | SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images

Death rate (2015): 52.2

Stroke was the fourth leading cause of death in the state of Alabama in 2015. Nearly 3,000 people living in the state died because of stroke-related complications that year. Smoking and other risky behaviors were reported to be common in this state over the past decade.

Next: This state has one of the highest rates of heart disease in the country.

2. Mississippi

Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Sadly, Mississippi also made the list. | Frank Kovalchek/Wikimedia Commons

Death rate (2015): 52.6

Stroke was the fifth leading cause of death in the state of Mississippi in 2015. Approximately 1,730 people in this state died as the result of a stroke that year. Mississippi also has some of the highest rates of heart disease and cancer in the nation.

Next: This is the state with the highest amount of stroke deaths.

1. Arkansas

Little Rock, AR, USA

And now, at No. 1.| csfotoimages/iStock/Getty Images

Death rate (2015): 58.9

Stroke was the third leading cause of death in the state of Arkansas in 2015. Approximately 1,580 people living in the state died due to stroke complications that year. Heart disease and cancer were the only diseases with higher mortality rates in Arkansas in 2015.

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