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New report shows stroke and heart disease threaten Missourians

 New report shows stroke and heart disease threaten Missourians

A new report from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services provides detailed information about stroke and heart disease death and hospitalization rates for each county in Missouri from 1995 to 2005. The report, The Burden of Heart Disease and Stroke in Missouri,

includes the following findings:

· In Missouri and the United States, heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death and stroke is the third leading cause of death.

· Similar to the United States trend, Missouri’s stroke death rate has decreased 24 percent and the heart disease death rate has decreased 27 percent since 1995.

· Among the 50 states, Missouri ranked 7th highest in stroke prevalence and 9th highest in heart disease prevalence in 2005.

· Significant health disparities continue to exist. African-American heart disease and stroke death rates were one-fourth to one-third higher than for whites.

· In 2005, Missouri hospital charges were nearly $3 billion for heart disease and $500 million for stroke.

· Indirect costs – due to lost productivity resulting from early death caused by stroke and heart disease – totaled $1.75 billion for heart disease and $251 million for stroke annually between 2001 and 2005.

“We have made significant progress in reducing stroke and heart disease in Missouri, but these diseases continue to take a serious toll on our state,” said Anita Berwanger, manager of the state health department’s Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program.

The health department analyzed data from 1995 to 2005 to compile the report and determine the effects heart disease and stroke have on Missourians. The report will be used to provide information to programs that work to reduce heart disease and stroke in Missouri.

Missouri’s heart disease and stroke rates are higher than the national average primarily because many of the risk factors for the diseases are higher in Missouri than in many other states. Those risk factors include:

· High blood pressure

· High cholesterol

· Smoking

· Lack of physical activity

· Poor nutrition

· Obesity

· Diabetes

The report was released in conjunction with National Stroke Awareness Month, observed annually in May.

“The good news is that there are new treatments for victims of stroke,” Berwanger said. “But treatment is time sensitive and people need to get help immediately upon recognizing any of the warning signs of a stroke.”

The state health department recommends using the FAST method for stroke detection and response:

· F—face numbness or weakness, especially on one side

· A—arm numbness or weakness, especially on one side of body

· S—speech slurred or difficulty speaking or understanding

· T—time to call 911, especially if accompanied by sudden loss of vision, or loss of balance with dizziness, or sudden severe headache

A stroke, sometimes called a “brain attack,” occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted. During a stroke, brain cells in the immediate area begin to die because they stop getting oxygen and nutrients they need to function. “That’s why recognizing the signs and taking immediate action is crucial,” said Berwanger. “Time lost is brain lost!”

More information about stroke can be found at

The entire report, as well as more information about heart disease, can be found at: