“The public is dangerously uninformed about what
stroke is, and what the signs and symptoms of stroke are, as well as
the risk factors,” Jim Baranski, C.E.O. of the National Stroke
Association, told Reuters Health.
Stroke is a brain attack, occurring when vital blood flow and oxygen
to the brain are cut off or greatly reduced.
The National Stroke Association suggests using the word FAST to help
recognize the signs of a stroke. F stands for Face: ask the person
to smile, and see whether one side of the face droops. A stands for
Arms: if both arms are raised, does one drift to the side? S stands
for Speech: is it slurred, or strange? And T stands for Time: don’t
waste time before calling 911 if someone has started to show any of
The American Stroke Association says that during a stroke, “Time
lost is brain lost.” An estimated two million brain cells die every
minute during a stroke, increasing risk of permanent brain damage,
disability and death.
Nearly a million Americans suffer a stroke each year, with one
occurring every 40 seconds, according to the National Stroke
Association. There are an estimated seven million stroke survivors
age 20 and older in the U.S.
Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death, and also a leading
cause of adult disability.
"One way of preventing stroke is to control high blood pressure. If
you don’t know (what your blood pressure is), get it checked,” Dr.
Rani Whitfield told Reuters Health.
Whitfield, a family practitioner in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and
national volunteer spokesperson for the American Stroke Association,
added, “You should also maintain a healthy weight, exercise and
don’t smoke. If you smoke, stop smoking today.”
National Stroke Association says women, Hispanics and
African-Americans are at higher risk for stroke compared to other
groups, but they are less likely to recognize the warning signs.
Each year, about 55,000 more women than men experience a stroke.
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In an effort to reach Americans at the local level, the National
Stroke Association has a list of organizations and medical centers
working to educate and share stories from stroke survivors. (A list
of community events is available here: http://bit.ly/1i8NPHA.)
Meanwhile, the American Stroke Association is using social media to
facilitate discussion about stroke awareness; Facebook and Twitter
users may join a “StrokeChat” or submit questions for discussion.
(Join in here: http://bit.ly/1qYChAk.)
“All too often, stroke is thought of as your grandparents’ disease,"
said Baranski, of the National Stroke Association. "If you are
younger, you don’t pay much attention to it.”
Baranski said he is excited about the association’s recent
collaboration with CBS Cares; television and radio public service
announcements highlighting the groups most susceptible to stroke
will be aired throughout May.
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