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Stroke More Often Impacting Younger North Dakotans

IMAGE: The American Heart Association has a free phone app to help stroke victims recognize the symptoms and find the nearest hospital that's certified for stroke care. COURTESY: AMA
IMAGE: The American Heart Association has a free phone app to help stroke victims recognize the symptoms and find the nearest hospital that's certified for stroke care. COURTESY: AMA
October 29, 2013

BISMARCK, N.D. – This is World Stroke Day.

And in North Dakota, stroke is one of the leading killers, and more and more often it is striking younger North Dakotans.

Dr. Ziad Darkhabani, a stroke and intervention neurologist with Essentia Health in Fargo, says stroke is a health issue that still needs much attention.

"There is an increasing number of strokes, especially in young patients between 25 and 64,” he points out. “We noticed that actually from our state stroke registry, comparing between 2009 and 2012. We saw that increase in this age population."

About 1,000 people in North Dakota suffer a stroke each year, and it is the sixth leading cause of death in the state.

Vital to a positive outcome is recognizing symptoms and calling 911 immediately, Darkhabani says. More information is on a new phone app from the American Heart Association, which shows the location of the nearest stroke-certified hospitals and explains why it's vital to act FAST.

"F stands for face,” Darkhabani explains. A, for arm, any kind of arm weakness. S, speech, speech difficulties and they included the T to indicate the importance for time."

Darkhabani stresses FAST action is key, since with a stroke, time lost is brain lost.

"Every minute more and more brain cells will die,” he says. “It's estimated around 30,000 cells will die every second after a stroke. That's just how important time is in stoke management and stroke care."

Time is also critical with a stroke because certain clot-busting drugs can only be given within a short time frame, generally about three hours from onset.

Ways to reduce your risk include quitting smoking, eating healthy and exercising on a regular basis.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND