According to a statement released this week by the American Heart Association, the number of strokes in the US will rise over the next 17 years and the costs linked with this increase will jump by more than double.
With a major segment of Americans about becoming older, the shifting demographics could mean an additional 3.4 million people will be afflicted from a stroke by 2030, according to a statement from the association that was also recently published in the journal Stroke.
Statement co-author Dr. Bruce Ovbiagele, chairman of the Department of Neurology at the Medical University of South Carolina, said both the event itself and the lasting care costs associated with stroke will heavily impact the American healthcare system.
“Strokes will absolutely strain the healthcare system,” Ovbiagele said. “Ninety percent of stroke patients have residual disability and only 10 percent recover completely after a stroke.”
“Policy makers at all levels of governance should be aware of this looming crisis so that we can consider practical ways to avert it,” he added.
Strokes are also expected to cost America in terms of productivity, rising from $33.65 billion to $56.54 billion in lost productivity, according to the AHA.
The fourth leading cause of death in America, stroke occurs when the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain is interrupted, typically by a blood clot or blood vessel rupture. Brain cells quickly die after they stop receiving oxygen-rich blood.
“During every minute of delayed treatment, brain cells are dying,” Ovbiagele said. “EMS systems nationwide should take patients directly to a designated stroke center equipped to quickly diagnose and administer drugs to restore blood flow to the brain.”
Stroke and Obamacare
According to the AHA, the additional coverage and preventative focus of the Affordable Care Act “should help reduce the number of strokes, deaths and related costs when the law is fully implemented in 2014.”
The association said that by now 86 million Americans are receiving some kind of preventative care under the new law commonly referred to as Obamacare.
“Expanding access to insurance coverage should improve access to primary care and the medications needed to control risk factors and help prevent stroke and to improve access to acute stroke treatment for those who were previously uninsured,” the AHA statement added.