What is a stroke?
A stroke is occurs in the brain in two ways: a blood vessel bursts, interrupting blood flow (and therefore oxygen) to an area of the brain (hemorrhagic stroke) or in the case of the most common, ischemic stroke, a blood clot blocks an artery (blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body including the brain).
The hemorrhagic type tends to cause the most damage. As many as 40 or 50 percent of people die from hemorrhagic stroke, while only around 10 percent of people with ischemic strokes will die after their stroke.
In either case, the result is that brain cells begin to die, causing brain damage. Depending on the area of the brain where the stroke occurs, certain abilities such as speech, movement and/or memory can be affected. The extent of the damage is different in each patient. Someone with a small stroke may experience only minor problems such as leg or arm weakness. Those with larger areas of brain damage may become paralyzed on one side or loss the ability to speak altogether.
Although some people do make complete recoveries from strokes, more than two third of survivors will experience some type of disability.
Three years ago, the members of the World Stroke Organization (WSO) launched the “1 in 6” campaign, so named because one in six people around the globe will have a stroke in their lifetime.
Each year 15 million people around the world are stroke victims with about 795,000 in the United States alone. Worldwide, stroke is the second-leading cause of death after heart disease. In the US, it is the third leading cause of death.
The primary reason for designating one day to stroke is to educate the public about this serious problem.
There are many misconceptions. For example. most people assume that stroke only affects seniors, but that’s not true. Actually, stroke occurs among all age groups, including newborns, children, and young adults. In the U.S., there has been an alarming increase in strokes among young and middle-aged Americans, while the number has been dropping in older people.
Part of the education process is to teach people to recognize the warning signs since bystanders often need to act in an emergency.
According to a survey by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, less than half of those who care for family or friends at high risk for stroke don’t know the potentially life-saving warning signs.
Even though everyone in the survey said they knew to call 9-1-1 if they thought someone was having a stroke, a recent study showed that more than a third of stroke patients don’t get to the hospital by ambulance.
The moment a stroke occurs, every passing minute without evaluation and treatment means greater risk of permanent damage or death. According to the National Stroke Association, the window of opportunity for the most successful stroke treatment closes after 3 hours.
One of the primary goals of the World Stroke Day is to make the public aware about Acting FAST, FAST being an acronym for things to check in a suspected stroke victim:
F - Face - Does the face droop on one side when the person smiles?
A - Arm - After raising both arms, does one of the arms drift downwards?
S - Speech -After repeating a simple phrase, does the persons speech sound slurred or strange?
T - Time - If any or all of the above are observed call for 9-1-1 (if in US or 999 in UK)
and ask for medical assistance. Emergency medical technicians will be dispatched and an ambulance will bring you to a hospital for evaluation and treatment.
The theme for this year’s global campaign is “because I care...” The slogan was chosen because it was felt to easily be adapted to all cultures and in any setting.
People are asked to commit to six stroke challenges:
1) Know your personal risk factors: previous stroke, transient ischemia attack (TIA or “mini-stroke”) high blood pressure, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, smoking, and high blood cholesterol.
2) Be physically active and exercise regularly.
3) Maintain a healthy diet high in fruit and vegetable and low in salt to stay a healthy state and keep blood pressure low.
4) Limit alcohol consumption.
5) Avoid cigarette smoke. If you smoke, seek help to stop now.
6) Learn to recognize the warning signs of a stroke and how to take action.
Bottom line: Strokes can be prevented. With timely attention and care, the chance of survival from a stroke is increased as well as the potential for less long-term disability.
For more information:
- Find the nearest stroke-treating hospital
-For more information about the stroke warning signs and mobile app, risk factors or Together to End Stroke, visit the Stroke Association website
-check out Florida’s state-base programs