CDC Spotlights Stroke Prevention for World Stroke DayPosted on by
The number of people affected by stroke worldwide has gone up significantly in the past 20 years. The number continues to increase in part due to an aging population. Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide and the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. Stroke kills more than 130,000 Americans each year and leaves another 5 million people with physical and mental disabilities.
There is some good news. Stroke is highly preventable through lifestyle changes and control of related health conditions. However, the rising number of strokes worldwide indicates that current primary stroke prevention programs are not enough. We need programs to reach more individuals and populations more effectively.
“Prevention of Stroke: A Strategic Global Imperative,” a report compiled by stroke experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and worldwide, looks at current primary stroke prevention strategies and suggests key actions to help reduce the increasing stroke burden. The authors recommend a global prevention framework that does the following:
- Shifts the emphasis in primary stroke prevention from high-risk individuals to include people with all levels of risk of CVD, promoting population-wide programs for risk factors such as high blood pressure, tobacco use, unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity and encouraging everyone to take steps to improve their health.
- Takes an integrated approach that coordinates clinical strategies with community-based strategies to promote healthy behaviors and reduce disparities, such as using community health workers and pharmacists to extend health care professionals work into the community.
- Maximizes information technology to advance prevention approaches, such as using smartphone apps to track and manage health conditions and risk factors.
- Incorporates early life, culturally appropriate education about healthy lifestyles and behaviors, including developing evidence-based stroke prevention guidelines and strategies that address local and cultural issues.
What CDC Is Doing
Many of these strategies are already embraced by CDC, which works to improve US cardiovascular health through public health actions and environmental supports that promote healthy lifestyles and behaviors, healthy communities, and access to early, effective, and affordable detection and treatment of stroke, heart disease, and their risk factors.
CDC leads several initiatives to help people prevent and control stroke that includes the following:
- Funding state health departments to develop stroke prevention programs through the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, which includes the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention.
- The Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Program, which focuses on improving stroke care.
- The Million Hearts® initiative, which aims to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes.
- The Global Hearts Initiative, which is a new partnership with the World Health Organization that expands stroke prevention efforts, especially in developing countries.
Although future research is needed on risk factors and prevention of stroke in various countries and populations, experts agree that implementing more effective primary stroke prevention and population-wide strategies—like those already promoted by CDC—can help reduce the burden of stroke worldwide and save millions of lives. And everyone, from government agencies to health care systems and individual patients, must work together to achieve this goal.