Dropping A Spot
Stroke has dropped from the nation’s fourth-leading cause of death to No. 5, according to new federal statistics. It is the second time this decade that stroke has dropped a spot in the mortality rankings.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, stroke swapped positions with unintentional injuries, which killed 1,579 more people than stroke in 2013.
"The fact that the death rate is declining is gratifying news," said Elliott Antman, M.D., American Heart Association president, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a senior physician in the Cardiovascular Division of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. "These statistics are a tribute to the many courageous survivors, healthcare professionals, researchers, volunteers and everyone else committed to fighting stroke."
The stroke death rate dropped slightly, from 36.9 percent in 2012 to 36.2 percent in 2013. While the death rate from heart disease dropped somewhat between 2012 and 2013, it remains the No. 1 cause of death in the nation. Cancer is the second-leading cause of death, followed by chronic lower respiratory diseases.
The decline in stroke deaths may be due in part to improvements in treatment and prevention, said Ralph Sacco, M.D., past president of the American Heart Association and chairman of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
"There are more stroke centers now operating in the U.S., and the acute care of stroke is improving," said Sacco. "However, although mortality from stroke is dropping, we know that the number of people having strokes in the U.S. is rising each year due to the aging of our population and signs that strokes have increased in younger groups."
Indeed, despite the lower death rate, 432 more people died from stroke in 2013 than in 2012, the report found.
Stroke also remains a leading cause of disability in the U.S. In fact, the number of people having strokes – often with painful and debilitating after-effects – remains a major cause of concern. "Stroke is more disabling than it is fatal," said Sacco.
And that’s why the American Heart Association remains committed to working with survivors, CEO Nancy Brown said.
"There is a great deal to be done on behalf of survivors, who very often face debilitating consequences," she said. "We are committed to standing by their side as we continue striving for new breakthroughs in stroke prevention, treatment and rehabilitation."