Did you know that stroke is the third leading cause of death, killing about 137,000 Americans each year, and the leading cause of disability? Approximately 795,000 strokes will occur this year and can happen to anyone at any time, regardless of race, sex, or age.
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 is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it starts to die. Approximately two million brain cells die every minute during a stroke.
Knowing the signs of stroke and getting medical help FAST will help save a life and limit disability. Use the F.A.S.T. test to recognize stroke systems:
F=Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A=Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift down?
S=Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Does the speech sound strange?
T=Time: If you observe any of these signs, it's time to call 9-1-1.
Recognizing the symptoms of stroke and calling 9-1-1 immediately if someone appears to be having a stroke are crucial steps in getting prompt emergency medical care. A clot-busting drug called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA - the only FDA-approved medication for the treatment of stroke) may reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke if it is given within 3 hours of the onset of symptoms. So it is very important to check the time so you'll know when the first symptoms appeared.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Never was this truer than in the case of stroke. In addition to knowing the signs and symptoms, it is equally important, if not more so to learn your risks and do all you can to decrease or prevent stroke and stroke-related disability. What better reason to take proactive measures and adapt the necessary lifestyle changes to significantly reduce or prevent stroke?
Things you can do to lower the risk of stroke include: