Earlier this month, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a “Vital Signs” report indicating that after decades of decline, progress in preventing stroke deaths has slowed. The report found stroke death declines have stalled in three out of every four states. Only 13 states saw stroke death rates continue to decrease steadily from 2000 to 2015. Iowa is one of those states.
“The Iowa stroke death rate dropped by 33 percent between 2005 and 2015,” said Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) Health Systems Coordinator Terry Meek. “Since 2012, the Iowa stroke death rate has decreased enough to meet the national Healthy People 2020 objective of 34.8 per 100,000.” This decline is due, in part, to:
- Education on stroke prevention information (knowing the signs and symptoms and immediately calling 911);
- Strengthening of stroke triage and care at the Comprehensive Stroke and Primary Stroke Centers in Iowa;
- Changing EMS protocols to include immediate transfer of stroke patients to the closest and highest level of stroke center; and
- Developing and implementing the Iowa Stroke Registry.
While this accomplishment is noteworthy, even one stroke-related death is too many, especially when stroke is preventable. All Iowans can help reduce the stroke death rate by:
- Recognizing signs and symptoms of stroke and calling 911 immediately.
- Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol by taking medicines as prescribed.
- Managing other medical conditions, like obesity and diabetes.
- Avoiding smoking and secondhand smoke.
- Eating a healthy diet low in salt and sugar, and increasing physical activity to maintain a healthy weight.
Recognize the signs of stroke F.A.S.T.
- Face – Ask the person to smile. Does one side droop?
- Arms – Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downwards?
- Speech – Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred?
- Time – If the person shows any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.
For more information on heart disease and stroke, click here. For the CDC’s Vital Signs report on stroke, click here.To learn about the Iowa Stroke Registry, click here.