Working together to prevent and treat stroke

May 27, 2020

May is Stroke Awareness Month. Everyone can play a role in preventing and treating strokes.

The American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, reports, “One in four people worldwide will have a stroke in their lifetime. And yet, 80 percent of strokes may be prevented.”

Strokes can become debilitating and fatal, if not caught and treated in a timely manner.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Stroke is the 5th leading cause of death and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability, with an estimated cost of $34 billion annually. One in 20 adult deaths are due to stroke. Risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes are happening at younger ages. Recent studies also suggest that over the last 15 years younger adults (ages 18-54) have had increases in stroke hospitalizations, along with increases in stroke risk factors among those hospitalized with stroke.”

Recognizing the warning signs, getting people into care immediately and taking steps for prevention are critical.

What can health systems do to care for patients who are susceptible for strokes or have had strokes? The CDC calls for integrated and fast attention.  

“Health systems (hospitals, doctors, rehabilitation specialists, emergency medical technicians [EMTs], pharmacists) can help address stroke risk factors and improve patient outcomes if a stroke occurs. When stroke happens, minutes count. Call 911 right away. Health systems can treat strokes fast if patients get to the hospital in time.”

The CDC recommends health systems:

·       Use system-wide approaches to find patients with undiagnosed or unmanaged stroke risk factors.

·        Work with community members and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to quickly identify strokes and get patients to the hospital fast.

·        Implement a coordinated system of care that effectively treats patients from the first symptom of a stroke through recovery.