Act ‘FAST’ if Signs or Symptoms Occur
A stroke strikes someone every 40 seconds in the United States, affecting nearly 800,000 lives each year. It is the fifth-leading cause of death, and kills 130,000 annually. For those who survive, long-term disabilities often ensue, depending in the severity of the event.
All of the above is preventable, says the American Stroke Association.
“Eighty percent of strokes are preventable,” according to the association. “That means the vast majority of stroke deaths and disabilities never have to happen.”
The No. 1 risk factor for stroke is high blood pressure. High blood pressure – easily controllable through diet and exercise and / or medication – damages the brain’s blood vessels, leaving them vulnerable to clots and ruptures. About 90 percent of strokes result from clots and ruptures, for which the medical term is ischemic. Ischemic strokes cut off blood flow to the brain.
Sadly, about one in six adults with high blood pressure are unaware they have it. This month, as the association celebrates American Stroke Month, advocates are trying to change that and raise awareness about the importance of getting regularly blood-pressure checks.
“CDC urges everyone to learn the warning signs of stroke and take action to reduce their risk,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states in an announcement about American Stroke Month. “Living a healthy lifestyle (e.g., being physically active, eating more fruits and vegetables and foods low in sodium and salt, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding smoking) can reduce the chances of having a stroke. Properly managing certain medical conditions (e.g., high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes) also can lower the risk.”
Consumers should know the signs and symptoms of stroke and can learn them by remembering a simple acronym: FAST.
F = face drooping.
A = arm weakness.
S = speech impairment.
T = “time to call 911.”
Other signs and symptom include blurred vision, dizziness, headache and sudden confusion.
Many local communities are organizing events to educate the public about stroke preventions. In Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., the city’s police foundation and fire-rescue department are offering free stroke assessments at city hall, where an expert panel of doctors from local hospitals will give a presentation. A stroke survivor also will speak.
Power To End Stroke is another resource for consumers. The American Heart Association campaign empowers individuals to take command of their health and reduce the occurrence of what has become the leading preventable cause of long-term disability.
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