May is American Stroke Month

Stroke is the No. 5 killer of all Americans and is a leading cause of disability, yet many don’t know their risk. American Stroke Month is an annual opportunity to get the word out.  Each May, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association recognizes American Stroke Month by rallying the nation around the cause, because together we can end stroke.

hero_image_alt_text===Heart and brain image
thumbnail_alt_text===Heart and brain image

Stroke facts

  • Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds.
  • Stroke kills nearly 130,000 people a year. That’s 1 in every 20 deaths.
  • Nearly 800,000 people in the United States have a stroke every year, with about three in four being first-time strokes.
  • Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability and the No. 1 preventable cause of disability.
  • Stroke disproportionally affects minorities. African-Americans have almost twice the risk of stroke as White Americans and a much higher death rate from stroke.
  • Age, gender, lifestyle, and family history are all risk factors for stroke, but you can lower your risk by following Life’s Simple 7: manage blood pressure, control cholesterol, reduce blood sugar, get active, eat better, lose weight, and stop smoking.   

Spot a stroke F.A.S.T.

  • Face drooping - Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
  • Arm tingling - Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech difficulty - Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like "the sky is blue." Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  • Time to call 911 - If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.


Here in Indiana, we've been hard at work, passing legislation concerning stroke systems of care.  Here's a recap of what we were able to accomplish this year!

Goal: To improve the quality of emergency stroke care throughout the state by increasing pre-hospital efficiency and improving in-hospital care of emergency stroke patients.

Outcome: Success! Our stroke systems of care bill, HB 1145 was introduced by Rep. Denny Zent on January 5, passed the House of Representatives on February 23, passed the Senate on March 14, and was signed into law by Gov. Holcomb on April 24. This new law will help ensure that all Indiana stroke patients receive the right care, right away by requiring that EMS medical directors and EMS agencies adopt and adhere to stroke-specific EMS protocols based on national standards. The law also requires the IN Dept. of Public Health to create and maintain a list of all certified stroke centers in the state as a tool for EMS professionals as they craft and implement those stroke protocols.

Efforts to help the Indiana Department of Health and Homeland Security educate the EMS community about the law are already underway, as the law includes an aggressive implementation deadline of July 1, 2018 (similar laws have sometimes taken much longer to implement in other states). We will also continue to work with volunteers and partners such as the Indiana Hospital Association, the Indiana EMS Association, the Stroke Consortium of Indiana, and others to keep moving stroke care forward in Indiana.


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