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Association publishes blueprint to strengthen stroke care from prevention through recovery

NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 2 -- Stroke care providers must develop systems of care to improve each link in the chain of survival in preventing and treating stroke, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association urges in a new statement.

An estimated 700,000 U.S. residents have a new or recurrent stroke each year, and about 163,000 of them die. An estimated 5.4 million Americans are stroke survivors and stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability, according to statistics compiled by the American Heart Association.

The statement, issued today, and published in the online edition of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, describes current practices among stroke care providers as "inadequate." It recommends stroke care providers work at a state or regional level as part of a system that will analyze data from a range of health providers to determine what is working and seek to apply those findings across the region to improve each patient's experience, said Lee H. Schwamm, M.D., a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and chairman of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association committee that drafted the statement. The stroke systems of care would strive to give each patient seamless transitions from one stage of care to the next with the highest quality at each step, he said.

"There is increasing recognition that stroke care is fragmented in this country with many different groups and institutions providing stroke care independently, whether for prevention, acute treatment or rehabilitation," he said. "If you are the patient, what you want to see is an integrated team of providers starting with the person who answers the phone when you call 9-1-1 all the way through to the time you come home having recovered from your stroke."

One aim of the systems approach is to overcome geopolitical boundaries that might interfere with stroke care, Schwamm said. Stroke support can be delivered
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Contact: Carole Bullock
carole.bullock@heart.org
214-706-1279
American Heart Association
2-Feb-2005


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