Stroke death rates continue to decline in Iowa

Published on November 3, 2017

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a “Vital Signs” report indicating that after decades of decline, national progress in preventing stroke deaths has slowed. The report found stroke death declines have stalled in three out of every four states. Only 13 states saw stroke death rates continue to decrease steadily from 2000 to 2015. Iowa is one of those states.

“The Iowa stroke death rate dropped by 33 percent between 2005 and 2015,” said Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) Health Systems Coordinator Terry Meek. “Since 2012, the Iowa stroke death rate has decreased enough to meet the national Healthy People 2020 objective of 34.8 per 100,000.” This decline is due, in part, to:

  • Education on stroke prevention information (knowing the signs and symptoms and immediately calling 911);
  • Expansion of more hospitals certified as Primary Stroke Centers;
  • Strengthening of stroke triage and care at the Comprehensive Stroke and Primary Stroke Centers in Iowa;
  • Changing EMS protocols to include immediate transfer of stroke patients to the closest and highest level of stroke center; and
  • Developing and implementing the Iowa Stroke Registry.

The Iowa Stroke Registry serves as a central system to collect, compile, and analyze state stroke data. IDPH, using funding from the CDC, contracted with the University of Iowa (UI) in 2009 to design and implement the registry. Last year’s legislation established the registry to maintain data collection and analysis of statewide stroke data.

“The overall intent of the Iowa Stroke Registry is to monitor causes of stroke and to shorten the time between the onset of symptoms and receipt of the best possible care available,” said Jim Torner, UI professor of epidemiology and member of the Iowa Stroke Task Force. “This in turn, will reduce overall stroke disability and increase the survival of stroke patients so they can return to once again productive lives.”