Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics indicate more than 795,000 people annually have a stroke, and stroke kills about 140,000 Americans each year, accounting for 1 out of every 20 deaths. In fact, stroke is so common that CDC informed: “Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds.”
A misconception is that only the elderly experience strokes, but CDC reported strokes can occur at any age, even though chances of experiencing a stroke increase as a person ages. Factors increasing risk of a stroke include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity and diabetes. Also, sickle cell disease sometimes leads to stroke.
American Stroke Association educates about stroke warning signs using the acronym FAST:
‒ Face drooping; numbness and/or an uneven expression
‒ Arm weakness; one arm is numb, drifts downward or is difficult to raise
‒ Speech slurring; inability to speak or difficulty finding and/or forming the right words
‒ Time to call; 911 should be called immediately if a person shows any of the FAS symptoms
ASA added that additional symptoms of mild to severe stroke could include:
‒ Numbness in other areas of the body, especially concentrated on one side
‒ Sudden confusion
‒ Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
‒ Trouble walking due to dizziness, weakness, imbalance, etc.
‒ Sudden severe headache with no explanation
‒ Sudden nausea and vomiting
Last April, Penn Medicine offered “3 Things To Do and 3 Things Not To Do” when someone is having a stroke:
‒ Do: Call 911; note the time of the first symptoms; check pulse and breathing and perform CPR if necessary.
‒ Don’t: Let person go to sleep or decline medical attention; take medication or eat or drink; drive.
Life after surviving a stroke varies widely. Medical professionals and therapists can provide a plan. Eating a diet low in fat, salt and sugar, exercising regularly and avoiding stress help minimize risk of stroke.