Stroke Prevention

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Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States (National Stroke Association, 2010). Stroke is also a leading cause of disability. Approximately every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke which is about 795,000 per year (National stroke Association, 2010). The incidence of stroke makes it a major health problem in the United States.

Prevention and early intervention is the key to reducing death and disability from stroke. Cost effective prevention strategies are needed for the delivery of stroke awareness and prevention. A priority of our health care system should be to educate the community about stroke risk factors and stroke warning signs to decrease potential death and disability from this preventable disease. Increasing the public’s awareness and knowledge of stroke is challenging because of co-existing illness, age of population, and heath literacy. The main priority of this project is to improve public awareness of the risk factors and symptoms of a stroke, and what action to take.

For this project I am focusing on an area in the United States known as the stroke buckle. The stroke buckle is a region consisting of 153 counties in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia (Shrira, Cristenfield, & Howard, 2008). The stroke buckle has had a stroke mortality rate higher than the rest of the United States for five decades (Shrira, et al., 2008). I would provide community-based education on stroke awareness and prevention in settings such as community centers, senior centers, and churches within the stroke buckle region.

A study performed focused on the impact of a community based stroke screening program on the knowledge of participants regarding signs and symptoms of stroke and risk factors for stroke (Willoughby, Sanders, & Privette, 2001). The findings of this study showed the importance of community based screening programs for increasing the public’s knowledge of stroke prevention and risk factors (Willoughby, et al., 2001).

Reducing the severity of risk factors in the community is an effective means of primary prevention and potentially the most effective method to reduce stokes. The goal of this project is to increases stroke awareness while providing information for stroke risk factors. Nursing interventions that will be provided are blood pressure screenings, smoking packets, information on regular physical activity, and a stroke risk factor screening tool. I will discuss the importance of reducing blood pressure, cholesterol levels, body mass index, , and tobacco use in stroke prevention.

While some risk factors are beyond a person’s control, there are certain lifestyle changes people can make to reduce their chance of having a stroke. According to the American Heart Association (2010), up to 80% of all strokes are preventable. Risk factors that people can target to lower their risk of having a stroke are smoking, blood pressure, unhealthy diet, and lack of physical exercise.

The most critical stroke risk factor is hypertension. Hypertension is defined as individuals having a systolic pressure greater than 140 mmHg or a diastolic greater than 90 mmHg, taking hypertensive drugs, or being told at least twice by a health care provider that they have hypertension (Hylek, D’ Antonio, Evans-Molina, Shea, Henault, & Regan, 2006). Nearly one in three American adults has hypertension, with another 28% or 59 million having pre-hypertension (Fields, Burt, Culter, Hughes, Roccella, & Sorlie, 2004). The risk of stroke is four times greater in older adults with a systolic pressure greater than 160 mmHg, and a diastolic pressure greater than 95 mmHg (Elliott, 2004). \Smoking contributes to stroke risk factors such as it raises blood pressure, reduces the level of HDL, makes blood more prone to clot, and damages the protective lining of blood vessels. Smoking is a significant risk factor for stroke that doubles the risk of stroke compared to nonsmokers...
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