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WI Doctor Has Advice During American Stroke Month

May 10, 2010

MADISON, Wis. - Only heart disease and cancer kill more Americans than stroke. During May, American Stroke Month, health care professionals want us to learn more about the risk factors and warning signs. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts.

Dr. Felix Chukwudelunzu, who works with stroke patients at Luther-Midelfort Mayo Health System, Eau Claire, says stroke affects 795,000 Americans every year.

"Every 40 to 45 seconds, someone is having a stroke. It's a common phenomenon in this country and throughout the world."

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

Chukwudelunzu warns that if you or someone with you has these sudden symptoms, time is critical. Don't wait to see if they go away - call 911 immediately and get help. It could mean the difference between life and death, he stresses.

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

"We must make sure we know what our risk factors are and work closely with our doctors in making sure those risk factors are controlled or reduced. That will reduce or prevent stroke."

Reducing high blood pressure by about 50 percent could mean about 120,000 fewer strokes each year, Chukwudelunzu estimates. 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.

More information is available from the American Heart Association, Midwest Affiliate at 608-221-8866 and online at and

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI