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$56 BN

Dollars

Annual stroke related costs in the United States

40%

Patients

Patients who experience moderate to severe impairment

5th

Ranked

Leading cause of death in the U.S.
(1 of every 19 deaths) 

Stroke is a medical emergency that occurs when blood flow to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, leading to brain cell damage and potentially irreversible neurological deficits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that in the United States that nearly 800,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke each year. Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability in the U.S.

There are two main types of stroke:

  • Ischemic Stroke: Caused by a blockage or clot that obstructs blood flow to the brain.

  • Hemorrhagic Stroke: Caused by bleeding into the brain due to a ruptured blood vessel.

Stroke can result in a wide range of symptoms, including sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, difficulty speaking or understanding speech, vision problems, dizziness, and severe headache. Prompt recognition and treatment are critical to minimize brain damage and improve outcomes.

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About 1 in 4 stroke survivors suffers a second stroke

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Emergency Treatment has focused on two types of therapy:

  • Clot-Busting Drugs: Intravenous thrombolysis with tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is the standard treatment for acute ischemic stroke if administered within the first few hours of symptom onset. tPA works by dissolving blood clots and restoring blood flow to the brain.

  • Endovascular Therapy: In some cases, mechanical thrombectomy may be performed to remove a large clot blocking a major brain artery. This procedure involves threading a catheter through blood vessels to the site of the clot and using a stent retriever device to remove it.

Secondary Prevention typically involves antiplatelet agents such as aspirin, clopidogrel, or a combination of aspirin and dipyridamole. In certain cases, anticoagulant drugs such as warfarin or direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) may be prescribed to prevent stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation or other cardiac conditions associated with increased stroke risk.

 

Strict blood pressure control is essential for preventing recurrent strokes and slowing the progression of vascular damage. Antihypertensive medications may be prescribed to lower blood pressure and reduce cardiovascular risk. Statin medications may be prescribed to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular events, including stroke.

Rehabilitation and supportive care focus on multidisciplinary rehabilitation programs, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and cognitive rehabilitation, and play a crucial role in helping stroke survivors regain lost function, improve mobility, and maximize independence. Stroke survivors and their families receive education and support regarding lifestyle modifications (e.g., smoking cessation, healthy diet, regular exercise), medication adherence, and self-management strategies to reduce the risk of recurrent stroke and improve long-term outcomes.

It is important for continued monitoring of patients who have suffered from a stroke. Regular follow-up with healthcare providers is essential for ongoing assessment of stroke risk factors, medication management, and monitoring for potential complications, such as recurrent stroke, cognitive impairment, and depression.  Stroke survivors may benefit from community-based support services, peer support groups, and resources to address psychosocial needs, social isolation, and caregiver burden.

Long-term treatments for stroke patients focus on secondary prevention of stroke recurrence, rehabilitation to maximize functional recovery, and ongoing management of stroke-related complications and comorbidities.

 

Overall, long-term treatment for stroke patients involves a multidisciplinary approach that addresses the complex needs of stroke survivors across the continuum of care, from acute intervention to chronic management and rehabilitation. By implementing comprehensive, evidence-based interventions and supporting stroke survivors in achieving their goals, healthcare providers can optimize outcomes, enhance quality of life, and promote long-term well-being for individuals affected by stroke.

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About 87% of all strokes are ischemic strokes which blood flow to the brain is blocked

Resources

National-heart-lung-and-blood-institute
CDC Logo
american-stroke-foundation
American-heart-association
stroke-support-association
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