July 17, 2014
Researchers Find Stroke Risk, Death Rates Have Fallen Over The Last 20 Years
Rayshell Clapper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Commonly called a brain attack, strokes can lead to paralysis, brain damage, and death. Stroke is currently the number four killer of Americans today, and it is a form of heart disease, which is the number one killer of all Americans. However, researchers with the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health report they have positive new findings concerning the realm of strokes.According to a university statement, "The study found a 24 percent overall decline in first-time strokes in each of the last two decades and a 20 percent overall drop per decade in deaths after stroke." These are significant numbers to be sure.
USA Today reported on the study and explained what the researchers did to come to these conclusions. First, the statistics above were based off of the death certificates and whether or not they included stroke as cause of death. Secondly, the study focused on "[following] 15,792 people ages 45 to 64 from 1987 to 2011. They came from Jackson, Miss.; Washington County, Md.; Forsyth County, N.C.; and Minneapolis." Each of these four locations saw a drop in the deaths due to stroke by the aforementioned 20 percent overall and 24 percent drop in first-time strokes. Moreover, the study further found that the declines were found in white and black Americans as well as in men and women.
Why the drop over the past decades? The researchers found that improvements in better control of blood pressure and cholesterol, less smoking, and better medical care after strokes all contributed to the decline. Each of these has seen an increase in focus on education and prevention. However, the rise in diabetes and obesity still pose particular concerns for all Americans.
The best bet for preventing death from strokes is through education. The National Stroke Association identifies eight tips to prevent strokes:
1. Know your blood pressure and treat any blood pressure issues.
2. Identify abnormal heart beat issues such as atrial fibrillation.
3. Stop smoking.
4. Control your alcohol intake.
5. Know your cholesterol levels and treat any issues associated with cholesterol.
6. Control diabetes.
7. Manage exercise and diet.
8. Treat circulation problems.
Each of these will continue to contribute to the decline in deaths from stroke. The most important focus, as identified by the Johns Hopkins study, is that managing exercise and diet will definitely help in managing diabetes and obesity. Even still, everyone should know how to identify a stroke because, despite the declines, strokes are still the number four killer of Americans. In a recent report for redOrbit, I explained the F.A.S.T. signs of a stroke according to guidelines by the American Stroke Association:
F = Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Is the smile uneven?
A = Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Does one arm drift downward?
S = Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Does the person repeat simple sentences correctly?
T = Time to call 9-1-1 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, no matter the severity or whether they go away, it is time to get the person to the hospital immediately.
Each of these signs will help all of us to identify and react to strokes.
The good news is that stroke continues to decline both in terms of first-time strokes and deaths from stroke. The concerns about diabetes and obesity are real and deserve continued focus so that we can make death from stroke an abnormality as opposed to a regular occurrence.
A report on the results of the new study was published in the July 16 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).