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Advocates of Stroke-Related Care to Lobby at Iowa Capitol

Iowa ranks 17th in the nation for stroke mortality. (pixabay)
Iowa ranks 17th in the nation for stroke mortality. (pixabay)
March 12, 2018

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa legislators will hear a bill Tuesday that would create a designation system showing which hospitals and care centers in the state are best equipped to deal with stroke patients.

Since 2000, strokes reported among those ages 20-45 have increased by 44 percent. Aaron Siders will be on hand to advocate for the bill during Stroke Lobby Day, supported by Iowa's American Heart Association. Siders is the primary caretaker for his wife, Contessa, who is still recovering from a stroke she suffered three years ago at age 33.

"It's critical to pass because it's going to get a person into the right place for the care that they deserve,” Siders said. “The problem that we have now is that a lot people are going to the wrong hospitals, hospitals that are not able to care for a stroke victim at that time."

There is growing research that shows strokes among U.S. millennials age 18-34 have soared in recent years. Iowa ranks 17th in the U.S. for stroke mortality, with 6,200 residents suffering a stroke every year in the state.

Since his wife's stroke, Siders said they have supported legislation to ensure Iowa hospitals can offer stroke victims the best care possible.

"We've been, ever since then, pushing, trying to get everybody to pay attention to stroke a little bit,” he said. “It is one of the top five killers in the United States and is the number one cause for disability in the United States."

The American Heart Association says if every state implemented a strong stroke care system, heart disease and stroke deaths in the U.S. could be reduced 20 percent in two years.

Strokes often are attributed to lifestyle risks such as smoking and obesity. But as Siders noted, some cases, such as his wife's, are unexplained.

"When she had her stroke, she was 33. To this day, we do not know what caused the stroke,” he said. “There is a large group of people that are just an unknown."

It's estimated that every minute following a stroke ages the brain by three weeks, a fact the American Heart Association says makes passage of Senate Bill 2299 important for Iowans.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - IA