Luke Perry’s recent and unfortunate death has left much of America mourning, and scared. Luke was 52 years old and otherwise healthy. This brings to mind a frightening reality – life is precious and we should live each moment as it could be our last.
Tragedies like this remind us to take care of ourselves, and our loved ones. At times, a stroke can occur without warning signs, but there are many subtle changes that could help patients and providers prevent a stroke.
The Stroke Center published the below startling statistics:
- Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. More than 140,000 people die each year from stroke in the United States
- Strokes can and do occur at ANY age. Nearly one-fourth of strokes occur in people under the age of 65
- On average, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds
- The risk of ischemic stroke in current smokers is about double that of nonsmokers after adjustment for other risk factors
- Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an independent risk factor for stroke, increasing risk about five-fold
- High blood pressure is the most important risk factor for stroke
As we age, there are more and more screenings, tests, and physician appointments that must occur to keep us safe and healthy. This can be complicated for patients and providers alike. It is challenging to keep track of which doctors to see and which tests to obtain.
Across the healthcare continuum, providers leverage technologies, many of which can be automated, to remind patients of important screenings, as well as monitoring for changes in their health.
This can include:
- Automated outreach or remote monitoring to track blood pressure: Many people suffer from hypertension, but it is important to monitor blood pressure fluctuations and clinical signs that could indicate an increased risk of stroke or other adverse events.
- Preventive Screening Reminders: Calling and texting patients to remind them to schedule a routine ECG or carotid ultrasound can help ensure that warning signs are tracked and appropriate interventions are taken to prevent a stroke. These important reminders can ensure that face to face interactions take place in a timely manner and that proactive steps can be taken to improve a patient’s health.
- Educational outreach and support on smoking cessation. With the negative impact smoking has on health, sharing resources on how to quit can enable patients to take the right steps towards improving health.
In addition to supporting preventive efforts, outreach and engagement play a critical role should a patient suffer from a stroke. Given that there are often necessary lifestyle changes required to manage physical limitations, offering clinical and emotional support to patients and their families can help ensure patients stay on the path towards recovery by monitoring clinical changes and offering resources to help
There are many ways that technology and automation can help improve clinical outcomes through proactive and preventive measures. Even things such as virtual checklists or recorded instructions can be used to boost the confidence of patients and their families, as well as provide helpful information back to care team to reduce gaps in care.
As a Luke Perry fan and a nurse, I hope that we continue to see the positive change towards value-driven care. By focusing on both proactive and preventive work, providers can have a significant impact on reaching patients before adverse events occur.