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Editorial: UNM stroke research ‘hitting it out of the park’

University of New Mexico School of Medicine neuroscientist Bill Shuttleworth is part of a global collaborative group working on innovative, more effective and successful ways to reduce the damage from a stroke.

Research conducted by Shuttleworth and others is leading away from existing medication that can sometimes be harmful and into a field that focuses more closely on learning about how to mitigate the damage that happens due to compromised blood flow in the brain of someone who has suffered a stroke.

That’s groundbreaking, as according to the CDC, someone in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds. And, every four minutes, one of those 795,000 Americans dies. That’s a grim tally of 140,000 dead people, accounting for one out of every 20 deaths in the U.S. each year.

While most people who have a stroke are over 65, 10-15% are young – under 45 young. If all this sounds grim, it is – but there is also good news. From 1995-2005, the mortality rate from strokes fell 30% and the number of strokes dropped 14%.

Some of the good news undoubtedly stems from the work done on many fronts, including raising awareness of risk factors: obesity, diabetes, stress, depression, irregular heartbeat.

The earnest hope is research being done by UNM and its partners will lead to better treatments and improved recovery statistics. Shuttleworth says UNM is “hitting it out of the park.” That’s great news for anyone who could be afflicted and their families. It also could help lower the nation’s massive annual $34 billion tab for caring for and treating stroke survivors.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.