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Scientists Report Stroke Mortality is Decreasing

Update Date: Nov 22, 2013 10:02 AM EST

Strokes occur due to blood clots that block access to the brain or popped blood vessels that start to bleed into the brain. Once a stroke happens, the victim's brain cells start dying, which is why getting treatment as soon as possible is vital. In a new scientific statement, a group of scientists is reporting that stroke mortality has declined. The national group, which includes an expert from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), could not, however, explain why the rate is down.

"Stroke has been declining since 1900, and this could be a result of changes leading to fewer people having a stroke or because people are less likely to die after they have a stroke," co-author, George Howard, Dr.P.H., professor in the Department of Biostatistics in the School of Public Health, said reported by Medical Xpress. "Nobody really knows why, but several things seem to be contributing to fewer deaths from stroke."

Andrei Alexandrov, MD, professor of Neurology and director of the UAB Comprehensive Stroke Center, added, "This likely is attributable not only to better arterial blood pressure control over recent years, but also to a greater number of neurological specialists focused on stroke care across many hospitals in the United States and abroad. Better early stroke recognition and specialized care can also reduce the risk of dying from stroke." Alexandrov was not involved with the statement.

According to the statement, over the span of the past 100 years, the stroke mortality rate has declined. Within the past 11 years, the rate was reduced by 30 percent. Even though the researchers are unsure what is causing the decline, they reasoned that one of the biggest possible contributors is lower blood pressure levels. Blood pressure is one of the leading causes of stroke and with better treatments and management of this chronic illness, blood pressure levels could have fallen throughout the country. Other possible causes include a reduction in smoking and improved treatment for cholesterol.

The report, "Factors Influencing the Decline in Stroke Mortality," was published by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Stroke Association. It can be assessed in the AHA's journal, Stroke.

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