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Stroke – What Everyone Should Know



May 17, 2010

BOSTON - It's called the silent killer; only heart disease and cancer kill more Americans than does stroke. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot, or bursts. During May, American Stroke Month, health care professionals want Bay Staters to learn more about the risk factors and warning signs for stroke.

Lynne Brady Wagner, the director of the stroke rehab center at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, says all of us need to pay attention.

"Nobody is invincible from a stroke, and as we have seen lately, it can also occur in younger adults, even in children, and it's very important to know the warning signs."

Risk factors are both hereditary and lifestyle-related. High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of stroke. The warning signs of a stroke include sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg; sudden confusion; trouble speaking, seeing, or understanding; and sudden severe headache.

Brady Wagner says you can't change risk factors that are hereditary, but those resulting from lifestyle or environment can be modified with the help of a health care professional.

"Stopping smoking can decrease your risk for stoke. Having good diet and exercise and looking at your cholesterol levels is very important."

Brady Wagner says if you or someone with you are with exhibits stoke systems, the first three hours are critical.

"Stroke is a 911 emergency. You want to call 911 and get an ambulance so that you can get yourself to the hospital."

According to The American Heart Association, stroke is the leading cause of disability in America, but with recent advances in treatment and medication, getting prompt treatment can mean the difference between walking out of the hospital and leaving in a wheelchair.

The American Heart Association has more information at www.americanheart.org

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - MA