Newswise — Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke or heart attack, and heart disease and stroke are the No. 1 and No. 5 causes of death in the United States, respectively.  Stroke is the second most common cause of death worldwide, and researchers predict the number of stroke-related deaths to climb by 50% by 2050, according to a new report. Studies show patients can recover better when providers consistently follow treatment guidelines and seek treatment quickly. 

October 29th is World Stroke Day to gain awareness of the warning signs of stroke, screenings and prevention. 

Doctors from Hackensack Meridian Health are available to talk about the significance screenings and treatments for Stroke this month on a variety of topics including:

  • Air Pollution Found To Be A Risk Factor For Stroke - Even short term exposure to air pollution can increase a person’s risk for stroke. The findings, published recently in the journal Neurology, are particularly concerning given this summer’s consistent air quality alerts experience across the country from wildfires in Canada.

The analysis included more than 18 million cases of ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, which is caused by a blood clot traveling to the brain. The researchers found that stroke risk was nearly 30% higher when people had been exposed to nitrogen dioxide up to five days prior. For carbon monoxide exposure, the risk was 26% higher; for sulfur dioxide, 15% higher; and for ozone exposure, 5% higher. 

The risk of dying from a stroke also went up with exposure to certain pollutants, according to the study analyzers. Short-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide was linked to a 33% increased risk of death from stroke, and for sulfur dioxide, a 60% increased risk.

  • Angioscreen Found To Be Successful Tool In Predicting Stroke Risk - Hackensack Meridian Health is now providing Angioscreen® Vascular Screening at several sites across the network.  The fifteen minute, comprehensive heart and vascular screening assesses a patient’s risk of both heart attack and stroke. It includes carotid artery ultrasound, peak systolic velocity (PSV), ankle brachial index, blood pressure check in both arms, abdominal aortic aneurysm check, body mass index, heart rhythm EKG and pulse.

A stroke or heart attack can often occur without warning or symptoms, which makes having the facts about your vascular health a vital first step in prevention. Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) are blockages in the arteries that go to the legs. Ten million people have PAD, and 90 percent do not know they have it. A person with PAD is two to four times more likely to have a heart attack compared to the general population. Ultrasound and Ankle Brachial Index are not routinely ordered by physicians unless symptoms are present. AngioScreen measurements provide an assessment of risk that can be enhanced by consultation with your personal physician who may recommend other measures of vascular risk and health. For more information on angioscreen visit this here.

  • BEFAST Essential For Positive Outcomes In Stroke - When it comes to stroke, being fast in recognizing its symptoms and seeking medical attention quicking is important. Many strokes are treatable if noticed quickly. To help get the word out about this medical professionals use the acronym B.E.F.A.S.T.  B stands for balance, check for a sudden loss of balance. E stands for eyes, monitor for vision loss. F stands for face, look for an uneven smile. A stands for arm, check for arm weakness, especially on one side. S stands for speech, monitor for slurred speech. T stands for time, as in if you see any of the symptoms above, it’s time to call 9-1-1.
  • Advances In Clot Busting Drugs & Surgeries Saving Lives - Endovascular thrombectomy (EVT) is a breakthrough intervention for stroke that allows physicians to pull blood clots from the veins of stroke victims. Endovascular thrombectomy involves inserting catheters through the groin or wrist, moving them up to the brain, and retrieving the blood clot, allowing blood flow to return. The interventions have been shown to save lives and reduce disability, with some patients achieving full recovery.  

Endovascular thrombectomy offers an alternative treatment for patients. Before the development of EVT less than a decade ago, the only treatment for a stroke caused by a clot was intravenous thrombolysis (IVT). It required patients be treated within 3 hours of symptoms onset and less than 10% of patients met the eligibility criteria for IVT.  The treatment carried the risk of hemorrhage, and in most cases was unable to bring a patient back to their previous state.

EVT has been developed within the last decade, but its use has been somewhat limited, less than 15% of ischemic stroke patients are a candidate for the procedure. The intervention has only been shown to be effective in people with blood clots in large arteries. Advancements in available thrombectomy catheters are now allowing physicians to explore using EVT in smaller arteries, expanding the number of eligible patients. 

A study by physicians at the Neuroscience Institute at JFK University Medical Center found EVT was safe and effective for patients with blood clots in medium blood vessels that can be more difficult to reach surgically. The research, published in Stroke: Vascular and Interventional Neurology,  looked at 175 patients with blood clots in medium-size blood vessels and compared endovascular thrombectomy against aggressive medical management with intravenous clot-busting medications. The study concluded that endovascular intervention was safe in medium vessel blood clots and that these patients may have better outcomes. 

  • Cardiac Rehabilitation A Successful Tool In Preventing Death From Stroke - Research at Hackensack Meridian JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute found through its groundbreaking Stroke-HEARTTM Trials, cardiac rehabilitation can reduce the chance of a stroke patient dying by 76%. Research published in the Journal of Stroke & Cerebrovascular Diseases found that JFK Johnson’s Stroke Rehabilitation Program’s 36 sessions of medically monitored cardiovascular training made an extraordinary difference in how patients recovered from stroke. The program also includes psychological, nutritional, and educational support and risk factor management.


The ongoing study so far has included more than 1,600 stroke survivors. Because stroke can vary greatly from one survivor to the next, the study created a subgroup of patients closely matched for gender, race, type of stroke, age, medical complexity, and functional scores at hospital discharge.


Of 449 patients in this subgroup, 246 completed the program. Among the patients who completed the program, four died within a year of their stroke. Among the non-participants, 14 patients died. This translates into a four-fold reduction in one-year all-cause mortality. Study participants, meanwhile, also saw their cardiovascular capacity increase 78 percent. They improved in all other measures as well.

Researchers have shown that people recovering from even a serious stroke can exercise safely and experience enormous benefits. The JFK Johnson research is now being expanded to rehabilitation centers across the country. 

Hackensack Meridian Health physicians and patients are available for stories on the above topics and more in conjunction with World Stroke Day coverage.

Journal Link: Short-term Exposure to Air Pollution and Ischemic Stroke: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis