The New BRAIN Initiative to Prevent and Treat Brain Attack (aka Stroke)

A couple of weeks ago, the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill: “The BRAIN (Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative: What is it and What Does It Mean for Stroke and Other Neurological Conditions?” The event was moderated by Sue Nelson, Vice President of Federal Advocacy, AHA/ASA, and additional speakers included: Bruce Ovbiagele, MD, Chair, Department of Neurology, Medical University of South Carolina; Kathy Hudson, PhD, Deputy Director for Science, Outreach and Policy, NIH; Story Landis, PhD, Director, NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDES); and Jose Maldonado, stroke survivor.

In a policy statement released at the briefing, the AHA/ASA predicts the cost of stroke may double by 2030 largely due to the aging U.S. population. Additionally, they forecast that by 2030:

  • Almost four percent of U.S. adults — nearly one in 25 — will have a stroke. This translates into an additional 3.4 million people with stroke in 2030.
  • Costs to treat stroke may increase from $71.55 billion in 2010 to $183.13 billion.
  • Annual costs due to lost productivity could rise from $33.65 billion to $56.54 billion.
  • Americans currently 45-64 years old are expected to have the highest increase in stroke at 5.1 percent.
  • Stroke prevalence is projected to increase the most among Hispanic men between now and 2030, and the cost of treating stroke in Hispanic women is expected to triple.

Drs. Landis and Hudson also provided an update on current research that is being funded by the BRAIN Initiative. The BRAIN Initiative has provided $110 million in funding to public institutions (NIH, National Science Foundation, etc.) and $122 million to private institutions. The project will require the development of new technologies that allow researchers to map the interaction of brain circuits. Those involved hope it helps treat complicated diseases, like Alzheimer’s, or tackle debilitating injuries, such as post-traumatic brain syndrome.

While it remains to be seen what the BRAIN project will discover, it certainly appears to be a step in the right direction. And, until those discoveries occur, the AANS, CNS and AANS/CNS Joint Cerebrovascular Section will continue to be dedicated to reducing the occurrence, disabilities and death associated with stroke by supporting continued research, clinical advancements and public awareness and education so we can help ensure that elected officials have a better understanding of how changes in healthcare and other public policies related to stroke prevention and treatment.

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