“I think when you have more access, you feel more empowered to take care of your health. When you don’t, you feel less empowered and wonder, ‘What am I putting the time into when I can’t get in to see the doctor or get the medications I need?”

At-risk populations, including people who have multiple risk factors and those who live in areas with limited access to medical care and resources, face a challenging complex. While reducing high blood pressure, quitting smoking, and controlling diabetes are among the modifiable risk factors that can reduce stroke risk, taking action without access to a primary care provider or other healthcare professional can make managing personal health concerns especially difficult.  

Andrew Russman, DO, medical director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Cleveland Clinic, believes that, to a degree, patients should be held responsible for their own health, but understands that appropriate care is not often accessible in underserved communities.

For a patient in these communities, waiting extended periods of time to see a physician may keep them from staying on top of their health. In addition, the use of the emergency department for primary care needs is not sustainable, and often leaves patients with no direction for future care.

In an Interview with NeurologyLive, Russman detailed why greater continuity of care by building a strong relationship between a patient and a medical provider can ultimately lead to improved management of risk factors and in turn, a lower risk of stroke.