National Stroke Awareness Month

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. The goal of this awareness month is to improve care and support for survivors while increasing public knowledge of the condition’s prevention and treatment. Stroke is one of the primary causes of long-term disability and the top cause of mortality in the United States, according the CDC. When anything prevents blood flow to a portion of the brain or when a blood artery in the brain bursts, a stroke, also known as a brain attack, happens. If blood does not flow to the brain, it lacks oxygen and nutrients because brain cells get those through blood. The lack of oxygen and nutrients causes brain cells to die within minutes. According to the CDC, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds, and someone dies of a stroke every 3.5 minutes. Race and ethnicity affect stroke risk differently. Black people are almost twice as likely to have a stroke as white people are. Also, the majority of stroke deaths are black people. The rate of having a stroke is higher in women than in men.

A person's head with a heartbeat in the background.

There are two types of strokes caused by various reasons, and they may have different effects on the brain. One of them is the Ischemic stroke, which is the most common form. It happens when a blood clot blocks the flow of oxygen to the brain. Most of the time, blocks are formed where the arteries are narrowed or there is fat built up in the artery. Several various risk factors could hasten the development of a clot. Among the health issues that raise a person’s risk of having an ischemic stroke include excessive blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes. On the other hand, a Haemorrhagic stroke happens when a blood vessel inside the skull bursts and bleeds into and around the brain. Being overweight, high blood pressure, lack of exercise, and stress are some factors that may cause this kind of stroke. Moreover, people who drink excessively or smoke are at risk of developing a blood clot or sudden burst of the blood vessels in their skull, which may lead to stroke. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, if a parent, sibling, or other family member has experienced a stroke, especially when they were younger, the risk of a stroke increases. Blood type-related genes are among those that have an impact on stroke risk. A greater risk applies to those with the uncommon blood type AB.

A circular diagram with the words stroke surrounded by icons.

Every minute matters when you have a stroke! Prompt treatment can reduce brain damage from a stroke. Knowing the symptoms of a stroke will enable you to act quickly and possibly save a life – even your own. Sudden disorientation or difficulty speaking or understanding speech, sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body, sudden vision problems in either one or both eyes, sudden difficulty walking, faintness, or lack of coordination or balance, and a strong headache that appears out of the blue are the symptoms that may be displayed by a person who is having a stroke. If any of these symptoms appear, the first responsible action would be calling 9-1-1 so that appropriate steps can be taken to reduce the harm. Many stroke victims do not get to the hospital on time, so it is crucial to recognize the warning signs and call 9-1-1 immediately.

A person with a clock. Text says, Stroke. Time lost is brain lost. Call 9-1-1.

After a stroke, a person may experience difficulties with thinking, judgment, memory, chewing or swallowing, forming speech, etc. Also, they may suffer from paralysis or numbness in one or both sides of the body. A stroke may cause depression among the victims as well. However, many people can return to their previous life with proper rehabilitation. There are different kinds of rehab, which include working with speech, physical or occupational therapy, and a doctor can advise which ones are necessary for someone who had a stroke.

A physical therapist helping a man learn to walk.

Following a stroke, therapy and medication may be used to treat depression or other mental health conditions. You might find it easier to cope with life after a stroke by joining a patient support group. Consult with a nearby medical facility or discuss local support groups with your healthcare staff. Following a stroke, support from family and friends can also lessen fear and anxiety. Inform your loved ones of your feelings and ask them for assistance. The following links can provide more information on stroke and what to do if you ever get a stroke.

National Stroke Awareness Month
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