According to the American Stroke Association (Stroke, 2009), stroke is the fourth largest cause of death in the United States. Those who survive a stroke will benefit from the proficiency of all members of the interdisciplinary team, but professional nurses perform a vital role in every aspect of their care. Nurses must stay current in their education to keep up with current issues and research in order to provide quality care and education for their patients. Current trends are focusing on improved treatment times and education on prevention. At the local level, the Texas Council on Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke works with schools, groups, and businesses to educate the public on heart and stroke health. At the state level, the Texas Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke Partnership is made up of five committees that look at the present public health framework. They work collaboratively to develop statewide plans of action for improvements to improve stroke prevention (http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/wellness/stroke.shtm). There are many national groups from which to gain knowledge and research information. These include the American Heart Association, the American Stroke Association, the National Institute for Neurological Disorder and Stroke, and the National Stroke Association. At the international level, the World Stroke organization provides the latest information on stroke issues around the world.
History of Stroke Education
Historically, there were few survivors of strokes. According to an article in the American Journal of Therapeutics (Kelly, 2011), not until the 1950s, were strokes widely recognized when they presented with a swift headache. In the 1970s, CT scans were beginning to be used to diagnose strokes, but treatment was usually bed rest and lumbar punctures were used to relieve pressure. During this period, high cholesterol was a known heart disease risk factor, but was not yet known to be a risk factor for stroke. By the 1990s, researchers determined that anticoagulation medications were useful in preventing a secondary stroke. As time has progressed, continued research and study has made identifications in risks, treatment, and prevention of stroke. In turn, these events have enabled nurses to participate in, not only patient education, but every aspect of care. Societal or cultural forces provide the professional nurse with an excellent opportunity for community education. In an article from the ABNF Journal (Butler et al.2012), African-American churches have paired up with community health organizations to promote healthy eating habits and monitor blood pressures of church members. Professional nurses can study a program of this type and expand upon it. Education plans can be put into action for various groups who are at high risk of cardiovascular disease. Economic forces that influence the nursing education role are abundant. With the high cost of health insurance, many patients do not carry it. In turn, without health insurance, many patients are noncompliant with their medications. Medicare can also put patients into the same dangerous situation. Nurses can be proactive in stressing not only the importance of following treatment, but in assisting patients with finding resources to maintain their treatment. On the political side, professional nurses can become proactive and contact community leaders for help in making health care and education available to everyone.
Currently, there are several stroke initiatives focused on stroke research. In April 2013, President Obama announced the BRAIN initiative (http://www.nih.gov/science/brain/index.htm). This action is prompting research focused on understanding the brain and the development of new technologies in treatment. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke contains a number of initiatives that are providing more knowledge in regard to strokes. A study in 2011, found that high