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Despite the numerous advances in medical technology over the past 20 years, stroke still remains one of the least manageable illnesses in the United States. While this fact, in and of itself is disturbing, the American Heart Association further reports: “Stroke killed 158,448 people in 1998. It’s the third largest cause of death, ranking behind ‘diseases of the heart’ and all forms of cancer. Stroke is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States”. As stroke continues to be one of medical science’s most deadly diseases, the urgency for a cure or preventative treatment becomes more acute.
The possibility of stroke in ourselves or a loved one is frightening because no one is capable of accurately predicting who the next victim will be. Further, stroke is perhaps one of the most devastating illnesses to plague modern society: “Stroke commonly removes us from things that we take for granted—simple activities such as walking, talking, writing, and performing functions necessary for daily living. With so much at stake one wonders why more has not been done to combat this debilitating disease. The reality is, however, that a considerable amount is known about stroke and its epidemiology. What is not known is how to cure a stroke after it has occurred. Although there have been marked advancements in stroke therapies, a cure continues to evade medical researchers.
Currently, stroke is referred to by several different names; cerebral vascular accident (CVA) and apoplexy are the two most common terms. While many people associate stroke with an event that typically causes death within the elderly community, statistics have shown, time and time again that stoke is not merely a disease of the elderly, it is a disease that can affect anyone. According to the most recent statistics published by the American Heart Association:
- Stroke killed 158,448 people in 1998 and accounted for about 1 of every 14.8 deaths in the United States.
- On average, someone in the United States suffers a stroke every 53 seconds; every 3.3 minutes someone dies of one.
- 28 percent of the people who suffer a stroke in a given year are under age 65.
- 1998 stroke mortality: males—61,145 deaths (38.6 percent of deaths from stroke); females—97,303 deaths (61.4 percent of deaths from stroke).
- The 1998 death rates for stroke were 57.6 (24.5) for white males and 86.4 (46.8) for black males, and 56.6 (22.0) for white females and 75.3 (37.2) for black females.
- 1998 death rates for stroke were 37.7 (19.6) for American Indians/Alaska Natives, 50.6 (22.7) for Asian/Pacific Islanders and 39.2 (19.0) for Hispanics (American Heart Association, “Stroke Statistics”).
Arguably, stroke is capable of affecting anyone: any gender, any race. In fact as noted by one author:
Stroke has no boundaries as to age, race, or sex. Thus anyone can be affected. Men appear to have a higher incidence of stroke in their earlier years than women. Some experts believe it may be due to the added protection given women by female hormones. Interestingly, however, the incidence of stroke in women after menopause is equal to that of men the same age.Paper Masters