A policy statement released by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association emphasized the importance of an integrated stroke system, which includes access to long term care services for all stroke patients.

Key Components

long term care stroke patientsThe 25 page policy recommendation was released last week and includes key concepts and components of a modern stroke system. The document emphasizes integration and coordination of the various phases of stroke care in order to create a better functioning stroke system.

Dr. Higashida, co-chair of the writing group, explained that the suggested concepts are meant to “optimize patient care and managements procedures”.

There are more than 1000 primary stroke centers in the United States, between 40 and 50 comprehensive stroke centers, and an unknown number of acute stroke-ready hospitals. Communication between the various phases of the stroke system, from EMS, to agencies, to hospitals, needs to be better managed to improve the effectiveness of the system and quality of care.

Long Term Care Services Needed to Recover

The AHA/ASA also noted that long term care services like rehabilitation and nursing services, are often needed by stroke patients after a stroke. The document highlights the need to provide access to these services for all patients, regardless of their financial status and how they plan to fund their care.

Stroke is one of the most common reasons for needing long term care services. It also ranks as the 2nd leading cause of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

“A fully functional ‘stroke system of care’ that reduces stroke-related deaths by just 2% to 3% annually would translate into 20,000 fewer deaths in the US alone and approximately 400,000 fewer deaths worldwide,” Higashida explained.

Ensuring long term care access for all stroke patients will help to reduce post-stroke disability, improve quality of life, and reduce the overall financial cost of stroke in the nation.

Other recommendations listed in the report included improvement of public awareness regarding stroke symptoms and the importance of calling 911 immediately and a quick assessment and transportation by EMS.

The policy statement, “Interactions Within Stroke Systems of Care”, is available to read online and will appear in the October issue of Stroke.