DMEs are taking National Stroke Month especially seriously this year because of their concern about the affect of competitive bidding on patients’ access to home medical equipment. Stroke is the leading cause of long-term adult disability in the United States. Someone in the United States suffers a stroke every 45 seconds and dies from stroke every three to four minutes. Fifteen people died of stroke during the hour before you read this. It’s not just an illness affecting the elderly, either: Twenty-eight percent of stroke victims each year haven’t even reached their 65th birthday.
The prevalence of stroke and the devastating toll it takes on peoples lives is the reason for National Stroke Awareness Month.
Many of the 700,000 Americans who will experience a stroke this year will rely heavily on medical-equipment providers for the rehabilitation and assistive technologies that can help them recover some of their pre-stroke lives. Already, DMEs serve the 5.5 million stroke survivors in the United States who make medical equipment an integral part of their daily lives as they regain mobility and try to live independently.
In a surprise for health-policy analysts, the number of people who died from stroke in the United States in 2004 (the most recent year for which data is available) dropped by 6.5 percent, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The decline contributed to the overall two percent decline in the number of U.S. deaths in 2004, the largest decline in 60 years. While experts attribute the drop to better medical care and improved procedures and medications, they also caution that the overall mortality and morbidity trend is upward, primarily because of Americans’ high-calorie, high-fat diets and lack of regular exercise.
Stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain breaks or is blocked. The surrounding brain tissue is damaged by bleeding and lack of oxygen. Brain cells begin dying, and brain damage follows. The exact area of the brain where the stroke occurs and the extent of brain tissue affected by ischemia or hemorrhage determine the kind and extent of victims’ disability.
To learn more about stroke and National Stroke Awareness Month, visit www.stroke.org/.