National Stroke Awareness Month
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May is National Stroke Awareness Month. According to the CDC, about 800,000 people living in the United States have a stroke each year. The CDC also informs us that 1 out of 4 of these strokes is recurrent strokes. In 2012, my mother suffered a stroke. Fortunately, we were able to act FAST. FAST is the acronym developed in the United Kingdom by a group of stroke physicians that means Face drooping. Arm weakness. Speech difficulties. Time to call 911 immediately.
There are different types of strokes. Ischemic Stroke (Clots), occur when a blood vessel supplying blood is obstructed. This is the most common type of stroke, according to the American Stroke Association. Hemorrhagic Stroke (Bleeds), occurs when a weakened blood vessel ruptures. Transient Ischemic Attack, called TIA, is a “mini-stroke” caused by a temporary clot. Cryptogenic Stroke is caused by a blood clot that blocks the flow of blood to the brain. This term is also used when the cause of the stroke is unknown.
There are certain health factors that increase one’s chances of having a stroke. Some factors are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity. As in the case of my mother, Atrial fibrillation often called AFib or AF is another cause of stroke. According to www. Heart.org. at least 2.7 million Americans are living with AF.
Lifestyle habits such as drinking too much alcohol, smoking, and not incorporating exercise into one’s daily routine also contribute to increasing the chances of having a stroke.
Other signs of stroke include:
- Sudden dizziness, trouble walking, or loss of balance
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden numbness of the face, arm, or leg
- Sudden confusion or trouble understanding others
Stroke Awareness month is a great time to talk to your family physician about lifestyle changes that could possibly prevent the occurrence of a stroke.