Stroke Drops to Fourth Leading Cause of Death in U.S.; More Awareness Still Needed

Press release

CENTENNIAL, CO – December 13, 2010 – Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that stroke dropped to the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. after five decades in third place behind heart disease and cancer. The report, Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2008, found a 3.8 percent decline in age-adjusted death rates from stroke between the years 2007 and 2008.

Report data are based on death records from more than 99 percent of the demographic and medical files for all U.S. deaths. While fewer deaths due to stroke were reported in 2008, the change in cause of death ranking for stroke may be due in part to a classification and coding change for deaths from chronic lower respiratory diseases. A final report that further analyzes impact from the classification and coding change on final death rate data is expected from the CDC in early 2011.

“National Stroke Association is encouraged by these new preliminary data,” said Jim Baranski, CEO of National Stroke Association. “Stroke has governed the third place ranking for cause of death in this country for much too long. This development is representative of many factors, including increased awareness, better stroke care, more use of available treatments such as clot-buster thrombolytic drugs and other medications, improved risk factor management and more people getting to the hospital immediately upon recognizing a warning sign or symptom.”

“While this positive news sheds some light at the end of a very long tunnel, there remains work for all of us,” said Mr. Baranski. “The first treatment for stroke became available 14 years ago, and today, research shows that less than five percent of eligible patients receive it. Imagine the public outcry if this were the case with, say, heart attacks. It is imperative that we continue raising awareness of stroke and addressing the needs of stroke survivors as they recover.”

National Stroke Association works every day to fulfill its mission to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke through compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke.

“We will take this information as incentive to push even harder for more public awareness and education that will eventually drop stroke further down the list of leading causes of death in this country. And, we are always happy to have people join us,” said Mr. Baranski.

Learn more about National Stroke Association offerings, including an innovative new way to learn about stroke through the Virtual Health Fair, at

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National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke.