Stroke Deaths Drop Due to Improved Treatment and Prevention

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Stroke-Deaths

Stroke Mortality Drops: AHA

In a decisive statement made by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke deaths in the U.S. have declined dramatically in recent decades due to improved treatment and prevention.

In an article on Stroke published by AHA on December 5, 2013, several factors likely contributed to the sudden drop of stroke mortality around the world. With the factors associated with the change, stroke has fallen from the third to the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.

“The decline in stroke deaths is one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th and 21st centuries,” Daniel T. Lackland, DrPH, chairman of the statement writing committee and professor of epidemiology at the Medical University of South Carolina, in Charleston, S.C., said in a news release. “The decline is real, not a statistical fluke or the result of more people dying of lung disease, the third-leading cause of death.”

Factors Behind Drop of Stroke Deaths

According to Lackland, many factors contributed greatly to the change with public health efforts including lowering blood pressure and hypertension control, which started in the 1970s.

In addition to these, smoking cessation programs, improved control of diabetes and abnormal cholesterol levels, and better, faster treatment also have prevented strokes. Improvement in acute stroke care and treatment is associated with lower death rates.

“We can’t attribute these positive changes to any one or two specific actions or factors [because] many different prevention and treatment strategies had a positive impact,” Lackland said. “Policymakers now have evidence that the money spent on stroke research and programs aimed at stroke prevention and treatment have been spent wisely and lives have been saved.

“For the public, the effort you put into lowering your blood pressure, stopping smoking, controlling your cholesterol and diabetes, exercising and eating less salt has paid off with a lower risk of stroke.”

Stroke deaths dropped in men and women of all racial/ethnic groups and ages, he said.

“Although all groups showed improvement, there are still great racial and geographic disparities with stroke risks as well many people having strokes at young ages,” Lackland said. “We need to keep doing what works and to better target these programs to groups at higher risk.”

The fall in stroke mortality is real and and happens to be a major public health and clinical medicine success story. There is strong evidence that the decline can be attributed to a combination of interventions and programs based on scientific findings and implemented with the purpose of reducing stroke risks, the most likely being improved control of hypertension.

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