This May is American Stroke Month, a multi-agency effort that seeks to provide the public with more information about one of America’s most common adverse health events. Each year, nearly 800,000 people suffer a stroke, leading to 140,000 deaths. This makes it the leading cause of death in America, and a major cause of serious disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Luckily, a stroke is often preventable and treatable. That’s why it is crucial to know the risk factors and warning signs.
Though strokes can affect people of all ages, they are most commonly seen in those over 65. According to the Stoke Awareness Foundation, the risk of stroke doubles each decade after an adult turns 55.
While treatable, the adverse health effects of a stroke can be debilitating, sometimes affecting survivors for the rest of their lives. Of the 7 million stroke survivors in the United States, more than two-thirds suffer from some sort of disability as a result of the stroke, the Stroke Awareness Foundation reports.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, strokes are more common in men, but more deadly in women. Additionally, strokes are more common, and more deadly, in African American adults, regardless of age.
Stroke Risk Factors
When thinking of adverse health events related to the cardiovascular system, most adults tend to think of heart attacks. But this isn’t the only adverse event that can come from poor cardiovascular health, as heart health is one of the leading factors when it comes to stroke risk.
According to Johns Hopkins, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, smoking and high cholesterol are all risk factors for stroke. Additionally, other risk factors include age, race, gender and genetics.
These risk factors mean that maintaining heart health is key to avoiding stroke. This means that adults should exercise regularly, refrain from smoking or excessive drinking, consume heart-healthy foods and regularly check in with their healthcare provider to assess cardiovascular health.
Signs of a Stroke
According to the American Stroke Association, more than 1.9 million brain cells die every minute that a stroke goes untreated. Thus, getting treatment is critical to lowering the risk of an adverse outcome. And to get treatment, one must understand the signs and symptoms of a stroke.
Several health agencies have made this easier through their usage of an acronym – FAST. Its meaning is as follows:
F – Face drooping
A – Arm weakness
S – Speech difficulty (such as slurring)
T – Time to call 911
Additionally, men and women can sometimes have slightly different symptoms of a stroke. Signs of stroke in women include feeling weak, disoriented, fatigued and nauseous, in addition to vomiting.
A stroke is a serious medical condition, one that can lead to poor health outcomes in both the short term and long term. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the factors behind a stroke and the symptoms of stroke.
By knowing the symptoms of a stroke, you can take action quickly, and improve the chances of a positive health outcome.