Each year, more than 780,000 Americans suffer a stroke. It is the third leading cause of death and a leading cause of long-term disability in the United States. African-Americans suffer more severe strokes than white Americans, and tend to have a higher rate of risk factors such as high blood pressure and smoking.
Many people do not know the symptoms or what to do when they witness someone having a stroke. The following information is provided to you by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).
“For African-Americans, stroke is more common and more deadly — even in young and middle-aged adults — than for any other ethnic or racial group in the country. It is critical to recognize the symptoms of a stroke, call 9-1-1, and get to a hospital quickly,” said Salina Waddy, M.D., program director, Office of Minority Health and Research, NINDS. “The good news is that treatments are available that can save people’s lives and improve their chances for successful recovery.”
A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted or if bleeding occurs in or around the brain. Brain cells die when deprived of oxygen and nutrients provided by blood. Because a stroke injures the brain, if you are having a stroke, you may not realize what is happening. But to a bystander the signs of a stroke are distinct:
* Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body)
* Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
* Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
* Sudden trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance or coordination
* Sudden severe headache with no known cause
In treating a stroke, every minute counts. Treatments are available that greatly reduce the damage caused by a stroke. But you need to arrive at the hospital within 60 minutes after symptoms start in order to receive some treatments. Knowing the symptoms of a stroke, making note of the time of the first stroke symptom, and getting to the hospital quickly can help you act in time to save yourself — or someone you know — from serious long-term disability.
Making changes in your lifestyle can help prevent stroke. The NINDS, part of the National Institutes of Health, is dedicated to research and education on the causes, treatments and prevention of stroke. Risk factors include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, family history of stroke, high cholesterol, and being overweight. Talk to your doctor and let him or her know about the concerns you may have about the risk factors of stroke. Find out your risks and take action.
More information on stroke, including how to reduce risk factors, is available in the NINDS materials. Order free materials by calling 1-800-352-9424 or by visiting www.stroke.nih.gov.