Spotlight: Hypertension and Stroke
Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for more than 1 out of every 15 1 deaths, and hypertension (high blood pressure) is a known, controllable risk factor for stroke.
Hypertension is the most common vascular risk factor among Veterans with stroke. Moreover, among Veterans, hypertension is the most common chronic condition, affecting more than 37% 2 of the Veteran population. Considerable evidence has shown that reducing blood pressure can contribute to a significant reduction in risk for stroke. However, despite widely available interventions (medication, lifestyle changes), many Veterans' hypertension is not being effectively managed.
VA estimates that 15,000 Veterans receive VA care for stroke each year 3 (approximately 6,000 VA admissions for acute ischemic stroke), with new strokes costing an estimated $111 million for acute inpatient care, $75 million for post-acute inpatient care, and $88 million for follow-up care in the first six months post-stroke. 4
To help decrease hypertension and stroke among Veterans, HSR&D investigators conduct a variety of studies that examine both conditions individually, as well as the association between the two. VA HSR&D also supports the Stroke Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (Stroke-QUERI), which works to reduce the risk of stroke by focusing on three main goals:
improving in-hospital management to reduce stroke morbidity and mortality
- developing, evaluating, and integrating prevention strategies to reduce stroke among Veterans at high risk
- supporting VA stroke policy decisions by collecting and reporting VA patient- and system-level data
1. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention website, 2005 National Vital Statistics.
2. VA HSR&D Stroke Quality Enhancement Research Initiative website.
3, 4. VA HSR&D Stroke Quality Enhancement Research Initiative fact sheet.