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The latest news from every corner of the state, including policy emerging from Missouri's capitol.

Advocates Address Disparities for Women in Missouri's Health Care System

The American Heart Association said pregnancy, pre-eclampsia, and chronic stress can increase women's risk for high blood pressure, a leading cause of stroke.
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The American Heart Association said pregnancy, pre-eclampsia, and chronic stress can increase women's risk for high blood pressure, a leading cause of stroke.

Women, and particularly Black women, are disproportionately affected by strokes and other health conditions in Missouri.

Keetra Thompson, a stroke survivor, acknowledged the disproportionate effects of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes on Black women in the state, attributing it to factors such as poverty, access to healthy food options, and lack of resources in certain neighborhoods.

"We have a Walmart and maybe a Schnucks but then everything else is all fast food," Thompson explained. "If I wanted to go to Whole Foods, I'd have to drive 40 minutes. If you don't have access to a car and you can't pay for transportation, you can't even get healthy food. The local grocery stores are so expensive, it's just unattainable."

Keetra expressed a need to advocate for better food choices and resources in underserved communities and remind Missourians to stay active and maintain a healthy lifestyle. The American Heart Association said calling 911 for stroke symptoms is crucial since the closest hospital may not be the most suitable for stroke treatment and paramedics are trained to do what is best.

Peter Panagos, professor of emergency medicine and neurology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, emphasized the Time Critical Diagnosis system ensures -- regardless of where you seek treatment, even at a small community hospital -- it is connected to larger hospitals. If a stroke is suspected and local care is inadequate, the smaller hospitals can recognize the symptoms, conduct early diagnostic testing and, through prearranged agreements and communication pathways with other hospitals, arrange timely transport. The system ensures everyone in Missouri receives equally outstanding care statewide.

"We've done a lot of work in the state of Missouri through the Department of Health and other constituent organizations to help improve the level of stroke care no matter where you live," Panagos pointed out.

Panagos stressed about 55,000 women, more than men, will have a stroke each year based on the numbers, and stroke is the number three cause of death in women in the United States. He added among women, Black women have the highest prevalence of stroke but being armed with knowledge about prevention can help with healthier outcomes.

The Missouri News Network is a partner with KRCU Public Radio.

Born and raised in Canada to an early Pakistani immigrant family, Farah Siddiqi was naturally drawn to the larger purpose of making connections and communicating for public reform. She moved to America in 2000 spending most of her time in California and Massachusetts. She has also had the opportunity to live abroad and travel to over 20 countries.