15 essential facts about stroke
It can happen in an instant to anyone at any age and at any time. Stroke - the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of adult disability. You may believe you know everything there is about this condition but likely there are many things you don’t. That’s why the month of May is set aside as National Stroke Awareness Month, to educate the public on understanding stroke and knowing what signs and symptoms to look for.
Similar to a heart attack, a stroke is actually a “brain attack.” A heart attack happens when blood suddenly is unable to reach a part of your heart but a stroke happens when blood supply cannot reach certain parts of your brain.
One important fact about strokes is that they are actually a leading cause of preventable death. The more you are educated and aware about strokes, the more likely you will understand and recognize signs of a stroke and be able to create barriers to stop them.
Here are 15 other key facts you may not know:
1. Calling 9-1-1 for an ambulance is the fastest way to get treated during a stroke. Don’t drive yourself
2. In two-thirds of cases, a bystander recognizes the signs and symptoms of stroke and calls for treatment.
3. Think F.A.S.T. That acronym includes the most common warning signs and symptoms of stroke: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1.
4. During a stroke, nearly 20 million brain cells die every hour. When compared with the normal rate of cell loss in brain aging, the brain ages 3.6 years each hour without treatment. The sooner the patient gets medical care, the better their chances of recovery.
5. Stroke symptoms can also include sudden numbness, sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes, sudden severe headache, and sudden trouble walking.
6. 87 percent of strokes are ischemic, caused by a clot blocking an artery to the brain. The rest are hemorrhagic, resulting from a ruptured artery in the brain. Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) are caused by a temporary blockage.
7. The drug tPA (alteplase) can dissolve a clot causing a stroke if administered within 3 hours of symptom onset (up to 4 ½ hours in some cases). People who arrive at the hospital within 90 minutes of symptom onset and are treated with tPA are three times more likely to recover with little to no disability than those who don’t get the drug.
8. For people with an ischemic stroke, the treatment window for mechanical clot removal is usually six hours – but up to 24 hours for some clots in large vessels.
9. Aspirin therapy can help stroke survivors avoid a recurrence. Stopping aspirin can up their risk of having another stroke.
10. In the “Stroke Belt,” an 11-state region in the Southeast, the risk of stroke is one-third higher than the U.S. average. This is attributed to poor diet, a higher rate of uncontrolled hypertension, and other factors.
11. More people in their 30s and 40s are having strokes than in the past, largely because many have multiple risk factors.
12. High blood pressure is the most common controllable cause of stroke. Nearly half of U.S. adults have high blood pressure.
13. Other risk factors include obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, and family history.
14. 80 percent of strokes are preventable – notably by eating healthfully, being physically active, and controlling risk factors.
15. Having a stroke increase the risk of a second stroke (1 in 4 survivors have another stroke). Prevention is crucial because second strokes can be more debilitating than first strokes.