TORONTO, June 1, 2006 – As we mark Stroke Month, nurses and other health-care providers now have two, targeted, comprehensive health-care tools to turn to help Ontarians prevent and better manage stroke and hypertension.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO), in partnership with the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario (HFSO), recently released, Stroke Assessment Across the Continuum of Care  and Nursing Management of Hypertension . Hypertension or high blood pressure is a significant risk factor for both stroke and heart disease. RNAO and HFSO’s two new Nursing Best Practice Guidelines provide specific strategies and recommendations for nurses and others to use when caring for patients with these pressing conditions.
“We are pleased to offer these excellent new professional resources to Ontario’s health-care community to prevent and better manage hypertension and stroke. It is important to recognize the links here, as hypertension or high blood pressure is the major risk factor for stroke and also a key factor in heart disease. We are confident that by releasing these strategies together, many more Ontarians will lead longer, healthier, and more independent lives,” says Tazim Virani, RNAO’s Director of the Nursing Best Practice Guidelines Program.
“We have partnered with the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario to develop these best practice guidelines to improve the quality of care patients receive on the front lines. By working together, we hope to reduce the rates of stroke and hypertension and ensure that all Ontarians have access to quality health care when they need it,” says Laura Syron, HSFO’s Vice-President of Research, Advocacy and Health Promotion.
Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in Canada, with more than 15,000 deaths every year attributable to this cause. It is also one of the most costly medical conditions, costing the Canadian economy $2.7 billion annually (Health Canada, 1997). The proactive Stroke Assessment Across the Continuum of Care guideline recommends that nurses screen patients for risk factors related to stroke in order to help prevent them. Risk factors include obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, hypertension, and the lack of regular physical activity. The comprehensive resource covers a continuum of care including stroke recognition, stroke prevention, pre-hospital care, emergency care, acute treatment, and rehabilitation and integration back into the community.
The other RNAO/HFSO guideline takes aim at hypertension, which is the major risk factor for stroke, and addresses this complex, chronic and “silent killer.” The resource advises that nurses take every opportunity to assess blood pressure to facilitate the early detection of this condition. The comprehensive resource also recommends that nurses educate patients about healthy lifestyle changes including maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet that is low in fat, quitting smoking, reducing stress, and being physically active.
Both newly launched guidelines were developed by a multi-disciplinary panel of health-care professionals and stakeholders from a variety of key provincial and national health-care organizations. RN Linda Kelloway was the leader in the development of the Stroke Assessment Across the Continuum of Care guideline (June, 2005) and RN Cindy Bolton for the Nursing Management of Hypertension guideline (October, 2005).
RNAO’s ambitious Best Practice Guidelines Program, funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care was launched in 1999 to provide the best available evidence for patient care across a wide spectrum of health-care areas. The 29 guidelines developed to date are available to nurses across Canada and abroad.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario is the professional association representing registered nurses in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve. To learn more about RNAO’s Nursing Best Guidelines Program or to view this resource, please visit: http://rnao.ca/bpg .
The Heart and Stroke Foundation is a leading funder of heart and stroke research in Canada. Its mission is to improve the health of Canadians by preventing and reducing disability and death from heart disease and stroke through research, health promotion, and advocacy. Please visit www.heartandstroke.ca  for more information.