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  • Stroke is the second leading cause of death in the US.
  • In 1997, there were 600,000 strokes and 160,000 deaths from stroke.
  • Every 53 seconds, one American suffers a new or recurrent stroke.
  • Stroke is the nation's leading cause of adult disability.
  • Stroke is also known as a "brain attack."
  • At all ages, more women die of stroke than men.  Stroke claims the lives of nearly ¼ more women than men in the United States each year.
  • There are now approximately 4.4 million stroke survivors.
  • The cost of stroke-related care is approximately $40 billion per year.
  • Risk factors for stroke include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, and diabetes.
  • More than ¼ of women who suffer a stroke in a given year are under 65.
  • Stroke is more common than heart attack among women under age 45.
  • Women over age 30 who smoke and take high-estrogen oral contraceptives (50 micrograms of estrogen or more) increase their risk of stroke 22 times.
  • According to a Gallup Poll by the National Stroke Association on stroke awareness, one-fifth of all Americans cannot name even one stroke symptom.

Long-term effects of stroke: 

  • Four million Americans are permanently disabled from paralysis, speech loss, memory loss or other impairments caused by stroke.
  • Among those who have suffered a stroke:
    • 71% have some form of diminished vocational capacity.
    • 31% experience moderate to severe permanent impairments that require special medical care.
    • 16% require care in a nursing home or other long-term care facility.

Costs of stroke:

  • Stroke costs $45 billion annually in the United States in direct medical costs and indirect costs, such as loss of productivity.
  • The average cost of a stroke in the United States for the first week of hospitalization, treatment and rehabilitation is more than $18,000.

Types of stroke:

  • There are two major types of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic. Approximately 80% of strokes are ischemic, meaning that they are caused by blood clots that block the flow of blood to the brain.

Treatment of stroke:

  • Activase (Alteplase, recombinant), a clot-dissolving or "thrombolytic" agent, is available to treat acute ischemic stroke in eligible patients who are evaluated in time to begin therapy within three hours of experiencing stroke.  As with all thrombolytic agents, Activase therapy increases the risk of bleeding, including intracranial bleeding, and should be used only in appropriate patients. Benefits of therapy will vary among eligible patients.  Not all patients with acute ischemic stroke will be eligible for Activase therapy, including patients with evidence of intracranial hemorrhage, evidence of recent or active bleeding, recent previous stroke, uncontrolled high blood pressure, or impaired blood clotting.

Click here for related information.

American Heart Association. 1999 Heart and Stroke Statistical Update; 1999.
American Heart Association. "Take Charge! A Woman's Guide to Fighting Stroke"; 1997.
National Stroke Association. "The Stroke/Brain Attack Reporter's Handbook"; 1997.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Brain Basics: Preventing Stroke. Pub. No. 95-3440-b.
Activase(r) (Alteplase, recombinant) Prescribing Information, Genentech, Inc; 1996.
Liu et al, JAMA, 9/27/00.

Created: 12/26/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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