For Brain Awareness Week (March 15 – 21), stroke surgeons, patients and advocates with the Get Ahead of Stroke campaign (GAOS) say more needs to be done to ensure people survive stroke, the leading cause of brain-related deaths in the U.S.
Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke. Nearly 20% — 140,000 annually — die from their condition, and many more are left permanently disabled. Physicians from the Society of NeuroInterventional Surgery (SNIS), the sponsoring organization for the GAOS campaign, say that if the nation’s stroke system of care looked more like our trauma triage system, patients would experience less disability, and more would survive.
In the case of the most serious strokes — known as an emergent large vessel occlusion (ELVO) — up to two million brain cells die each minute. The longer a patient’s treatment is delayed, the greater the impact the stroke will have — potentially paralyzing them for life or worse. Stroke surgeons say ELVO require direct transport to a Level 1 stroke center to ensure that patients have the best chance to survive and reduce disability. Unlike trauma protocols, most states do not require transport to the most capable treatment facility.
“As we focus on brain health this week, it is critical to change our systems to match the trauma approach,” said SNIS President William Mack, MD. “When getting stroke treatment, know that time is brain—meaning that every minute of delay before a stroke patient receives the care they need reduces their chance at a full recovery.”
Get Ahead of Stroke is currently working to improve stroke care state-by-state through policy changes in North Carolina, Ohio Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. To date, we have had success across the country including in Tennessee, Arizona and Florida. Our national efforts include presentations with the National EMS Advisory Council (NEMSAC) to advance country-wide regulations and protocols, however there is still a great need for federal action.
“Our mission is to ensure that every stroke patient gets the care needed to arrive to an appropriate facility, survive treatment, and thrive post-care,” said Dr. Mack.
Get Ahead of Stroke is a national public education and advocacy campaign designed to improve systems of care for stroke patients. Founded in 2016 by the Society of NeuroInterventional Surgery (SNIS), today the campaign is supported by a coalition of organizations with the goal of securing the best possible outcomes for stroke patients by driving policy change and public awareness nationwide. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Brain Awareness Week is a global campaign, coordinated by the Dana Foundation, to foster public enthusiasm and support for brain science.