Stroke – What Everyone Should Know
RICHMOND, Va. - 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 everyone to learn more about the risk factors and warning signs.
Mary Morrissette, the neuroscience administrator with CJW Hospital in Richmond, says nobody is immune.
"A lot of people do not realize the impact of stroke, and also that it can happen to anyone at any age."
Risk factors are both hereditary and lifestyle-related. High blood pressure is one of the leading causes. 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.
Morrissette 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.
"High cholesterol, lower it; keep your hypertension in line; if you take medicine, don't stop taking medicine. If you smoke, stop; if you're obese try to work to get your weight down."
Morrisette says if you or someone with you exhibits stroke symptoms, speed is critical.
"The most important thing is to call 911 and get to the hospital as quickly as possible. We only have a small window of opportunity to treat someone."
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.
Information from the American Heart Association is at www.americanheart.org