May Is American Stroke Month

May 11,2016

Did you know that 80% of all strokes are preventable? The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association are working hard to get the word out. Nearly 800,000 people suffer a stroke each year in the United States and stroke remains the leading cause of serious, long-term disability. Although stroke threatens millions of lives, early treatment with clot buster medications can minimize brain damage. But, it is important to know what to do as nearly 2 million brain cells die each minute that a stroke goes untreated.

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to some area of tissue in the brain is deprived of oxygen. Since early action can minimize brain damage and reduce the risks of complications, a stroke should always be treated as a medical emergency. That means every minute counts and you should never wait to see if stroke-like symptoms go away. The American Stroke Association is asking that everyone become a "Stroke Hero" by controlling their blood pressure and knowing the warning signs, so you're ready to act F.A.S.T.

Stroke Heroes Think "F.A.S.T."

If you think someone is having a stroke, do the following:

Face - Ask the person to smile and notice if one side of the face droops?

Arms - Ask the person to raise both arms and notice if they have difficulty raising an arm or if one arm drifts downward.

Speech -  Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase and notice is their speech is slurred or sounds strange.

Time -  Is of the essence, so call 911 or your local emergency number right away.

When a stroke happens, the blood flow to the person's brain is interrupted or reduced. If you suspect that someone is having a stroke, it is crucial that you watch carefully while waiting for emergency medical assistance to arrive.

Risk Factors for Stroke

If you are 55 or older, you're at a higher risk for stroke. African-Americans are the highest risk group by race and men have a higher risk than women. However, women are more likely to die from a stroke. Lifestyle factors that increase the risk of having a stroke include: being overweight, physical inactivity, family history of stroke or heart attack, heavy or binge drinking and use of illicit drugs as well as cigarette smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, managing your blood pressure is a crucial step in reducing one's risk of stroke. Often referred to as the "Silent Killer", untreated high blood pressure can damage and weaken arteries which can lead to serious consequences.