Good news, bad news during National Stroke Awareness Month

By John Murphy, MDLinx
Published May 2, 2018

Key Takeaways

May is National Stroke Awareness month, and the good news is that in-hospital stroke mortality has decreased nationwide. But the bad news: stroke hospitalizations have increased overall.

According to results of a study presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 70th Annual Meeting, held April 21-27, 2018, in Los Angeles, CA, stroke hospitalizations that resulted in death decreased from 8.98% in 2007-2008 to 7.34% in 2013-2014 (P < 0.0001).

During the same period, overall stroke hospitalizations increased from 1,017,414 to 1,114,960 per year.

“There is continued decline in nationwide in-hospital mortality among hospitalized acute stroke patients. This reflects ongoing improvement in stroke care models and advancement in therapies,” concluded Mohammad Rauf Afzal, MD, and colleagues in neurology at Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, El Paso, TX.

Few know stroke symptoms

But even with these advancements in stroke care, the need for public awareness of stroke prevention and symptoms has never been greater, urged the National Stroke Association. Stroke is still the fifth leading cause of death and one of the leading causes of adult long-term disability in the United States.

Yet, despite the prevalence of stroke, fewer than one in five Americans can correctly classify all five stroke symptoms.

“We know that recognition of stroke symptoms leads to receiving medical attention faster, which results in better outcomes. Knowing the signs of stroke, how to prevent it, and how to help others around you just might save a life,” said Robyn Moore, CEO, National Stroke Association.

For instance, less than half of all 911 calls for stroke are made within 1 hour of symptom onset, and fewer than 50% of callers can correctly identify stroke as the reason for their call.

This May, during National Stroke Awareness month, the National Stroke Association is appealing to the public to know the risk factors and how to identify the signs and symptoms of stroke. The association urges Americans to look at their stroke risk factors and pledge to make at least one change to reduce their stroke risk.

Hypertension, for example, is the single most important modifiable risk factor, accounting for nearly 48% of strokes, and a full 80% of people experiencing their first stroke are hypertensive. Smoking is another risk factor that can be modified. Smokers have a 2- to 4-fold increased risk of stroke compared with nonsmokers and those who have quit for more than 10 years.

Encourage your patients to familiarize themselves with the risks and the signs of stroke during May.

For more information and resources to raise public awareness of stroke, visit the National Stroke Association’s Stroke Awareness Resource Center.

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