Tuesday, June 20th, 2017
As today’s largest generations continue to mature, all age groups are in the center of a significant shift. Within the next 30 years, the population of people over the age of 60 will surpass the number of those beneath it, making awareness of a changing health landscape necessary. In addition to general care and support for our loved ones, it’s vital to note that the risk of stroke increases with age, doubling every decade following the age of 55.
With a growth in stroke risk for those over 60 jumping to more than 1.2 billion by 2025, society’s awareness of cardiovascular and stroke health will have to step into the foreground. This awareness begins with a groundwork of understanding—both of prevention, the steps to care for those with stroke risks, and a strong initiative to manage care in an equal and thoughtfully planned manner.
When considering all the factors that contribute to stroke risk, age is the element most out of one’s control. Though stroke can happen at any stage in life, many studies show that age is the biggest threat. But this doesn’t mean there are limited preventative options. The first step to finding them is understanding the need for more preventive measures as age increases.
Many statistics provide a good starting point. The occurrence of stroke is mainly weighted toward those over 65 years old—between 75 and 89 percent of strokes affect this age group. Half of all strokes occur in those above or around 70, while a quarter appears in those over 85.
All of these age groups will benefit from knowledge of what to do and how to prevent this prevalent issue. Complicating things further, the prognosis worsens after an initial stroke, leading to a fatality rate of just over 24 percent in patients over 80. This oldest category of patients often requires longer hospital stays and is more likely to spend time in intensive care during initial recovery.
Those under 80 years old are also highly susceptible to post-stroke complications and should be just as aware of the risks as their ages rise. On the flip side, patients under age 80 are more likely to be discharged to their residence after a stroke, while just under half of patients over age 80 meet the same option. So overall, both the level of risk and need for extended care increase as each person reaches these ages.
This quickly shifting landscape means that we will need to further develop the most caring and effective options for ongoing home care and caretaker support. Long-term care requires prior planning and assistance financially and logistically, all the while keeping the needs of your loved one’s comfort and health at the head of all concerns.
Studies have also shown that stroke fatalities in those over 80 is greatly affected by factors such as socioeconomic status, education level and prior admission to an intensive care unit. By noticing these trends, we can move ahead and prepare for this shift, assuring equal access to manageable and affordable support for all as soon as possible.
Preventative care, as always, warrants more attention and research; it is the most powerful way to manage a negative health trend of this sort. This oncoming rise in care can be reduced with understanding of cardiovascular health and lifestyle changes. Knowing the risks and recognizing the factors that stand out as red flags are ways to be prepared. Medical professionals should be highly trained in prepping patients with a high risk for stroke both before a potential stroke and during the recovery process.
Healthcare analysts are aware of the coming shift and have actually deemed this concern the “Stroke Silver Tsunami.” In tandem with increased care, health professionals are also considering an overhaul of quality and specificity of stroke patient support, keeping in mind the sharp uptick to come. Their sense of urgency will help us focus more on change.
Major studies are currently underway and focusing on the need for change. Further research is still required to explore the overall health care, long-term support, and specific preventative measures that can be implemented.
Cardiovascular care already presents a huge challenge for our society and healthcare system. This oncoming healthcare change encourages everyone affected, not just medical professionals, to take the time to fully understand the increase of stroke risk early—arming us with the knowledge, medical advice, preventative care, and logistical details to be fully prepared and supportive.
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