According to researchers, for more than 100 years there has been a reduction in stroke fatalities, yet it is unclear why the decline remains constant. The researchers are reportedly comprised of a national group of leading scientists, including an expert from the University of Alabama (UAB).
A news release from the university states that the American Heart Association (AHA) and American Stroke Association have published a scientific statement, Factors Influencing the Decline in Stroke Mortality, which has also been backed by the American Academy of Neurology. The statement appears in the AHA journal Stroke.
In spite of the promising decrease, there is still much to be done, says statement co-author George Howard, DrPH, professor in the department of Biostatistics in the School of Public Health. Howard explains that stroke has been declining since the year 1990, a potential result of changes leading to fewer people having a stroke or because people are less likely to die post-stroke.
Howard adds the biggest contributor to the decline, may be changes leading to lower blood pressure levels. Additional contributors may also include reductions in smoking, better treatment of cholesterol, and how patients are cared for post-stroke.
In the last 11 years, stroke deaths have declined by 30%, according to Howard. While the decline is positive, Howard points out that, “if we don’t understand why the numbers are decreasing, we can’t work toward that trend.”
In the release, Andrei Alexandrov, MD, professor of Neurology and director of UAB Comprehensive Stroke Center, who was unaffiliated with the statement, adds that the lower death rate among adults younger than the age of 65 deserves additional attention, as a large portion of stroke victims in the southeastern US are young.
Howard aligns with Alexandrov’s statement, noting that while stroke prevention and care have played a key role in the decline of stroke mortality, more research is required.
“…Should more resources go toward areas where we’ve seen success, or should they go where differences haven’t been made yet? I’d say there’s an argument for both,” Howard says.