According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 800,000 people in the United States experience a stroke each year.
In addition, one person in the United States will die from a stroke every four minutes.
Even if an individual survives a stroke, it may cause long term or permanent damage.
The good news? Most strokes – nearly 80 percent – are preventable. And a large percentage of the ones that happen are treatable with the right care, right away. It’s a matter of knowing what to do, taking action and spreading the word.
What is stroke?
Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain either bursts, ruptures or is blocked by a clot. As a result, the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs and pieces of the brain die.
Are you at risk?
Anyone, including children, can have a stroke. Some stroke risk factors such as age, sex and ethnicity are not controllable; however, there are several risk factors within your control. For example, high blood pressure, also called hypertension, is the leading risk factor for stroke. Hypertension can be controlled by eating a healthy diet, regular physical activity, not smoking and by taking prescribed medications.
How do you spot a stroke?
Common signs and symptoms of a stroke include:
» Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg.
» Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding others.
» Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
» Sudden dizziness, trouble walking, or loss of balance or coordination.
» Sudden severe headache with no known causes.
One easy way to know the signs and symptoms of a stroke is to use the acronym F.A.S.T., which stands for:
» Face drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
» Arm weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
» Speech dfficulty: Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “the sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
» Time to call 911: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and ensure they are transported to the hospital immediately by ambulance, the fastest way to get medical care.
If you or a loved one is suffering a stroke, it is critical to get to the nearest emergency room as soon as possible. Time is critical as immediate stroke treatment can prevent serious disability and death. Stroke patients evaluated within a certain window of the onset of the stroke symptoms could be eligible for a medication that can dissolve the clot and prevent damage to the brain.