Did you know… that every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke? According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2008 alone, more than 133,000 Americans died from stroke—or one person every four minutes— making it the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.
It’s scary to think about. A stroke, sometimes called a brain attack, occurs when a blockage stops the flow of blood to the brain or when a blood vessel in or around the brain bursts. Although many people think of stroke as a condition that affects only older adults, strokes can and do occur in people of all ages. In fact, nearly a quarter of all strokes occur in people younger than age 65.
Each year, almost 800,000 strokes occur in the United States and can often lead to serious, life-changing complications that include paralysis or weakness on one side of the body, problems with brain function and forming speech and/or emotions, numbness, pain, and depression.
With May being Stroke Awareness Month, we want to increase Stroke Awareness to ensure that you know how to recognize signs of a stroke and also how to prevent one from occurring.
What are the Signs of a Stroke?
According to the National Stroke Association and the American Heart Association, stroke warning signs and symptoms are F.A.S.T.: (here’s where I got the info: http://strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/WarningSigns/Stroke-Warning-Signs-and-Symptoms_UCM_308528_SubHomePage.jsp, for design you could use this too)
- Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?
- Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
- Time to call 9-1-1 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.
Other symptoms include:
- SUDDEN numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg – especially on one side of the body.
- SUDDEN confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
- SUDDEN trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
- SUDDEN trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
- SUDDEN severe headache with no known cause.
Lower Your Risk
Demographic factors such as family history, age, sex, and race/ethnicity can all play a role in an individual’s stroke risk. Regardless of your background, however, there are several things you can do to lower your chances of having a stroke. To prevent cardiovascular disease, including stroke, and contribute to overall health, here are some pointers:
- Appropriate Aspirin therapy – Ask your doctor if taking aspirin is right for you.
- Blood pressure control – More than half of the world’s stroke deaths are caused by elevated blood pressure levels.
- Cholesterol management – Get your cholesterol checked regularly and manage it with diet and physical activity or with medication, if needed.
- Don’t smoke.
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat a healthy diet that’s low in sodium.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Prevent or control diabetes.
- Limit your alcohol intake – Keep it to fewer than two drinks per day for men, or one drink per day for women.
Remember: When responding to a stroke, every second counts.
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Twitter: Sara Wesche @SafetyTraining1