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Stroke Systems

The Issue

Stroke continues to be a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States, as well as a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States. 

Approximately 700,000 Americans have a new or recurrent stroke each year, and stroke remains the third leading cause of death in the United States when considered independently from other cardiovascular diseases. At the onset of a stroke, time is of the essence to receive proper medical care and increase survival.

However, in far too many cases a fragmented and disorganized delivery system prohibits patients from receiving the treatments that can improve or even save their lives. Additionally, according to American Heart Association (AHA) estimates, the total direct and indirect costs of heart disease and stroke will be close to $1.5 trillion (in 2010 dollars) by 2030, giving government at all levels a stake in improving the quality and value of cardiovascular care.

To address stroke care in Mississippi, the Mississippi Healthcare Alliance (MHCA) - formed in 2009 - meets regularly with hospitals and partners working to enhance communication and care among all healthcare providers, including statewide medication protocols, educational symposiums and regional structure. With guidance from and partnership with the American Heart Association, efforts were made to create both STEMI and stroke systems of care. While the STEMI system of care is set in policy, the stroke system of care is currently a voluntary program that includes:

  • Standardized practice based on evidenced based medicine
  • Maximized Health Care Access
  • Professional and Community Education
  • Demonstration of Quality Performance through data collection, review and process improvement
  • Participation in research opportunities

Mississippi can officially recognize the best medical centers to treat stroke to ensure that the best care is delivered promptly, as well as enact EMS transport protocol plans. The AHA has already identified the criteria for care that facilities should meet to provide patients the best care possible and the Mississippi Healthcare Alliance has been working to put these standards together. Therefore, it is time to officially pass the stroke system of care and make it policy in the state of Mississippi.

The Association Advocates

The American Heart Association supports the development and certification of Primary Stroke Centers (PSCs) to improve the quality of acute stroke care, support stroke systems of care, and improve access to life-saving stroke care, believing that all Mississippians should be able to access the high quality stroke care that PSCs can provide. Specifically, the AHA/ASA encourages Mississippi to formally recognize PSC certification through legislation or regulation, and to develop comprehensive and coordinated stroke systems of care which recognize PSCs as being cornerstone to effective systems development.

Photograph of a nurseSetting statewide systems of care for stroke will insure the best quality care for all Mississippians.


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