What Is the Stroke Belt?

stroke belt
The Stroke Belt reaches across the Southeast, from Virginia to Louisiana, and north to Indiana. (Image credit: National Institutes of Health)

More than 140,000 people die from a stroke every year in the United States, making it the third-leading cause of death in the country.

And while death from stroke occurs in every state, the lifestyles of people who live in the Stroke Belt may cause the greatest risk of stroke.

The Stroke Belt includes 11 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Some medical experts also include northern Florida and parts of East Texas in the Stroke Belt.

Studies have found that those born and raised in this wide swath of the United States are 34 percent more likely to die of stroke than their peers in other states.

Researchers believe that greater-than-average rates of obesity, cigarette smoking and high blood pressure account for the increased risk of death from stroke for those living in the Stroke Belt.

Follow LiveScience on Twitter @livescience. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth is a former Live Science associate editor and current director of audience development at the Chamber of Commerce. She graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from George Washington University. Elizabeth has traveled throughout the Americas, studying political systems and indigenous cultures and teaching English to students of all ages.