Often when I look for research news from local schools, I come away depressed. So it’s nice to read some news that’s unequivocally good–namely, that way fewer people are having strokes, and even those who do are much less likely to die from them, according to recent research out of Johns Hopkins.
Over the past 20 years, first-time strokes declined by a whopping 24 percent. And among those who do have one, the post-stroke death rate declined by 20 percent. That’s pretty amazing news. Researchers credited declining smoking rates and better cholesterol-controlling medications for the good news.
Hopkins officials dampened the glad tidings a bit, noting that most of the decline in stroke risk was in people over age 65, while the drop in stroke-related deaths was in people below 65. In other words, plenty of people are still at risk. Not to mention that “stroke is still the No. 4 cause of death in the United States,” as study co-author/Hopkins epidemiologist Josef Coresh points out. “This research points out the areas that need improvement. It also reminds us that there are many forces threatening to push stroke rates back up and if we don’t address them head-on, our gains may be lost.”
And of course other rising health problems, such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, can contribute to stroke risk. That means we may well see these positive effects reversed in the near future. But for now at least, let’s pat ourselves on the back.