The Executive Office of Health and Human Services indicates stroke as the third leading cause of death in the United States. National Stroke Awareness Month, initiated by former President George Bush in 1989, is designed to encourage awareness of stroke, its warning signs and tips for prevention. Read on, because the life you save could be your own.
What is a stroke?
A stroke is a sudden interruption in the blood supply of the brain. Most strokes (about 80%) are caused by a sudden blockage of arteries leading to the brain (ischemic stroke); others are caused by bleeding into brain tissue when a blood vessel bursts (hemorrhagic stroke). Because a stroke occurs rapidly and requires immediate treatment, it is also referred to as a brain attack. A stroke has many consequences, including brain damage or even death. Learn more with this Stroke 101 Fact Sheet from the National Stroke Association.
Identify the Warning Signs
Early detection of stroke symptoms is paramount to recovery. A great trick to remembering the signs of a stroke is the pneumonic FAST which stands for: face, arm, speech, and time.
- Face: Does the face look uneven? Ask the person to smile
- Arm: Does one arm drift down? Ask the person to raise both arms
- Speech: Does the speech sound strange? Ask the person to repeat a phrase
- Time: If you observe these symptoms act FAST and call 9-1-1
Additional symptoms may include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arms, or legs
- Sudden confusion, or trouble speaking or understanding others
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble with walking, dizziness, or loss of balance/coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Some risk factors for strokes are out of your control, but according to Stroke.org, up to 80% of all strokes are preventable. Below find tips to reduce your risk, and of course, always consult with a healthcare professional.
- Prevent or control high cholesterol and high blood pressure
- Prevent or control diabetes
- Avoid tobacco and second-hand smoke
- If you consume alcohol, do so in moderation
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a healthy diet
Consider spreading awareness of stroke this May with ideas from the National Stroke Association.