NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that South Carolina has the fifth-highest stroke death rate in the country.

Statistics from the CDC show that for every 100,000 deaths in the state, nearly half of them are due to stroke.

“South Carolina is in what we call the stroke belt. It’s one of the top 5 one of the top states with the highest rates of strokes,” says Dr. Julio Rentas, a Neurologist at Trident Medical Center.

According to the CDC, South Carolina is among the states leading the country for deaths caused by strokes. In 2020 that number was 2,876. Dr. Rentas says it’s important for people to be aware of the different risk factors that are associated with strokes.

“Uncontrolled high blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes, smoking, having an inactive life, obesity, so those are all risk factors that we see in our population here,” he says.

Dr. Rentas says things like high blood pressure and diabetes are common in many of his patients, making them a higher risk. He says there are different treatment options to mitigate that risk.

“We can give medication by vein, but that has to be given within 4.5 hours from the onset of the stroke symptoms. It is very important that we try to recognize symptoms that could suggest a stroke,” he says.

Doctors say in the event of a stroke, it’s crucial to remember the acronym “Be fast.” It identifies the signs of a stroke that changes in balance, eyes, face, arms, and speech. The final “T” stands for time and reminds bystanders that time is of the essence when it comes to seeking care.

“It is important our patients come to seek medical attention as quickly as possible,” says Dr. Rentas.

Statistics from the CDC show the average age of a stroke death patient in South Carolina is 84.