What is a stroke?
Individuals who’ve survived a stroke have survived a “brain attack.” A stroke (or cerebrovascular accident - “CVA”) disrupts the flow of blood to the brain. When a part of our body is deprived of blood, it has the potential of being damaged. When the brain’s blood supply is interrupted, a variety of disabilities may result. The left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, while the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body. If a stroke occurs on the right side of the brain, impairments of judgment, memory, and attention can result. If the areas of the brain that control speech or language functions are affected (the left side of the brain), an impairment of reading, writing, speaking or understanding may occur. A loss of language function following a stroke is known as aphasia.
- Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer.
- More than 160,000 Americans die from stroke each year.
- Stroke is the leading cause of serious long-term disability in the United States.
- There are more than 6 million stroke survivors living today in our country each year. About 500,000 of them are first or new strokes. About 200,000 occur in people who have already had a stroke.
- Strokes can, and do, occur at ANY age. Nearly 25 percent of strokes occur under the age of 65.
- The risk of stroke more than doubles each decade after the age of 55.
- Up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable.
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Family history of stroke
- Previous strokes
Common Stroke Symptoms
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with unknown cause
F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember and identify the most common symptoms of a stroke. Recognition of stroke and getting to a hospital rapidly will more likely lead to a better recovery.
- Face – Ask the person to smile; if one side of the face is crooked or drooping, the person may be having a stroke.
- Arms – Ask the person to lift both arms; if the person has difficulty raising one arm, the person may be having a stroke.
- Speech – Ask the person to talk; if speech is slurred or the person is unable to talk, he/she may be having a stroke.
- Time – If the person is having any of the signs noted above, call 9-1-1 immediately. Time is very important in stroke treatment and recovery.
Courtesy: Stroke Awareness Foundation and National Stroke Association