Dallas, TX – Stroke deaths in the United States have declined dramatically in recent decades due to improved treatment and prevention, according to a scientific statement published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.
The American Stroke Association commissioned this paper to discuss the reasons that stroke dropped from the third to fourth leading cause of death.“The decline in stroke deaths is one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th and 21st centuries,” said Daniel T. Lackland, Dr. P.H., chair of the statement writing committee and professor of epidemiology at the Medical University of South Carolina, in Charleston, SC. “The decline is real, not a statistical fluke or the result of more people dying of lung disease, the third leading cause of death.”
Public health efforts including lowering blood pressure and hypertension control that started in the 1970s have contributed greatly to the change, Lackland said.
Smoking cessation programs, improved control of diabetes and abnormal cholesterol levels, and better, faster treatment have also 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 as 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.
About 795,000 Americans will have a stroke this year, and 129,000 will die from stroke. About 3200 Tennesseans per year die from stroke.
Co-authors are Edward J. Roccella, Ph.D., M.P.JN., committee chair; Anne F. Deutsch, R.N., Ph.D.; Myriam Fornage, Ph.D.; Mary G. George, M.D., M.S.P.H.; George Howard, Dr. P.H.; Brett M. Kissela, M.D., M.S.; Steven J. Kittner, M.D., M.P.H.; Judith H. Lichtman, Ph.D., M.P.H.; Lynda D. Lisabeth, Ph.D, M.P.H.; Lee H. Schwamm, M.D.; Eric E. Smith, M.D., M.P.H.; and Amytis Towfighi, M.D., on behalf of the American Heart Association Stroke Council, Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing, Council on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research, and Council on Functional Genomics and Translational Biology.
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