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Stroke Treatment And Ongoing Prevention Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

STROKE TREATMENT AND ONGOING PREVENTION ACT -- (House of Representatives - March 27, 2007)


Mr. PICKERING. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the Stroke Treatment and Ongoing Prevention Act.

As the original cosponsor of the STOP Stroke Act, I would like to extend a special thanks to my colleague and the bill's sponsor, Congresswoman Capps for her tireless efforts to move this important legislation.

Despite significant advances in its diagnosis, treatment, and prevention, stroke remains the nation's number three killer and a leading cause of long-term disability. An estimated 700,000 U.S. residents have a new or recurrent stroke each year, and about 160,000 of them die, according to statistics compiled by the American Heart Association. On average, every 45 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke, and someone dies of a stroke every 3 to 4 minutes. Stroke is the number four killer in my home state of Mississippi. In 2004, 1,651 people in Mississippi died of stroke. Mississippi ranks first in the nation for the highest death rate from heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.

Today 5.7 million Americans are stroke survivors. As many as 30 percent of them are permanently disabled, requiring extensive and costly care. It is expected that stroke will cost the nation $62.7 billion in 2007.

Prompt treatment of patients experiencing stroke can save lives and reduce disability, yet thousands of stroke patients do not receive the care they need. Additionally, most Americans cannot identify the signs of stroke, and even emergency medical technicians are often not taught how to recognize and manage its symptoms. Even in hospitals, stroke patients often do not receive the care that could save their lives. Rapid administration of clot-dissolving drugs dramatically improves the outcome of stroke, yet fewer than 3 percent of stroke patients now receive such medication.

The STOP Stroke Act is a first step toward removing these barriers to quality stroke care, thereby saving lives and reducing disability. The legislation addresses a number of significant hindrances to quality stroke care including low public awareness, lack of necessary infrastructure, low awareness among medical professionals, and lack of adequate data collection.

The legislation will coordinate these various components. According to the American Heart Association, developing coordinated systems of care is essential to improving prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation for stroke patients.

The STOP Stroke Act authorizes a national public information campaign to educate the public about stroke, including how to reduce risk, recognize the warning signs, and seek emergency treatment as soon as symptoms occur.

This legislation also authorizes the Paul Coverdell Stroke Registry and Clearinghouse to collect data about the care of acute stroke patients and foster the development of effective stroke care systems. The clearinghouse will serve as a resource for States seeking to design and implement their own stroke care systems by collecting, analyzing and disseminating information on the efforts of other communities to establish similar systems.

The STOP Stroke Act also provides grants for public and non-profit entities to develop and implement continuing education programs in the use of new diagnostic approaches, technologies, and therapies for the prevention and treatment of stroke. Stroke support can be delivered to smaller, underserved facilities by relying more heavily on innovative telemedicine approaches that overcome the boundaries of time and distance to help rural hospitals tap into otherwise unattainable resources.

Finally, this bill authorizes a telehealth stroke treatment pilot project to support states' efforts to develop comprehensive networks to improve stroke prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation. These grants will allow states to identify stroke centers, improve communication networks that bring stroke care to rural areas, and decease response time.

The time has come for a bill such as the STOP Stroke Act. In fact, the time is past due. We are in a situation where stroke rates are on the rise, and we must address the issues that are going to help us match resources with the growing need to prevent and treat this devastating illness.

I look forward to working with my colleagues in both Chambers to promptly move this legislation that has actually passed previously in both the House and the Senate.


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