Guest Blogger: Sarah Higginbotham, Oregon Government Relations Director
This May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and in Oregon, where stroke is the No. 1 preventable cause of disability and the fourth leading cause of death, I wanted to share our exciting progress on this issue.
Stroke in Oregon
More than 86,000 people in Oregon have had a stroke. A stroke is essentially an attack on the brain and is a true emergency. There is a phrase amongst stroke providers that ‘time = brain’. With every second lost during or after a stroke, brain function is lost. Knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke, taking appropriate action, and getting the best care as quickly as possible are all essential steps for a patient’s survival and recovery.
Unfortunately, Oregon stroke death rates have historically been higher than the national average. What does stroke in Oregon look like?
- In 2011, nearly 2,000 Oregonians died from stroke.
- There were nearly 8,000 stroke hospitalizations in 2011 with an average medical cost of $32,723 and a total medical cost of more than $250 million.
- Stroke disproportionally affects lower-income individuals. Additionally, incident of stroke and death rates are consistently higher among African Americans, American Indians, and Latinos.
- Smokers are 40 percent more likely to have a stroke than non-smokers.
The realities of stroke are an enormous challenge for families and individuals in Oregon. Survivors like Gordon remind us that fighting stroke begins with all of us—just knowing how to spot one can make all the difference in the life of a victim. (If you don’t know F.A.S.T., please take a moment today to learn it and share it with others.)
A Recent Victory at the State Capitol
At the American Heart Association | American Stroke Association, we are working to prevent stroke, while also working to ensure that victims of stroke have access to the best care possible. Through our advocacy work, we educate decision makers, like those in the State Capitol; provide expert opinions, like those of Dr. Ted Lowenkopf, a Stroke Neurologist and Medical Director of the Providence Stroke Center; and share evidence-based research.
Last year, we celebrated a major victory when we successfully championed and passed Senate Bill 375 in the Oregon Legislature. This bill established a statewide Stroke Care Committee and Stroke Data Collections System.
The newly established committee will be responsible for analyzing data collected by the state to help inform stroke providers on best practices for stroke care and advise the Oregon Public Health Division on treating and preventing strokes.
As the newly established Stroke Care Committee comes together this spring, we look forward to a life-saving collaboration that will help Oregonians across the state prevent and fight stroke
Your Help is Key
Moving forward, help from our You’re the Cure advocates will be just as important as ever.
Share your story and expertise - From survivors and caregiviers to stroke providers and community leaders, it’s going to take all of us speaking up to continue this important work. If you would like to get involved in our work to advocate for stroke prevention and care, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Know how F.A.S.T. - If you don’t know how to spot a stroke, please learn F.A.S.T. here—it just takes a minute. And don’t forget to share with people you know this month. You can also download the free F.A.S.T. app below:
With you by our side, we can prevent death and disability from stroke in Oregon.