Focusing on Strokes and Prevention

More than 700,000 Americans suffer from a stroke each year.  

It is the third leading cause of death, following heart disease and cancer.

A stoke involves a loss of blood supply and oxygen to the brain. The causes range from a ruptured blood vessel to a clotted artery.  The result is often a loss of feeling on one side of the body, which can sometimes account for a patient dribbling saliva from the mouth, as muscle control is lost. Depending on the severity of the stroke, the symptoms can range from "pins and needles" to complete paralysis.

A team of neurologists at the Medical University of South Carolina examined data from over 10,000 patients who have suffered a stroke since 2002.  Led by Dr. Wuwei Feng, the medical team examined the risk of recurrent stroke. 

According to their findings, published in the February 2010 issue of the medical journal Neurology, among people who suffer from a stroke, one in twelve are likely to have another stroke soon after the initial attack and one in four will die within a year. 

The South Carolina researchers also found that increase risk of a stroke recurrence increases with age.  Those over the age of 55 are at more of a risk than someone younger, and that risk doubles every decade.

Race is another contributing factor that can lead to a stroke.  At age 65 African Americans are twice as likely to suffer from a stroke than Caucasians.  However, Caucasians are more likely to suffer from strokes once they reach the age of 80.

Family history and the patient’s own medical history can factor into the likelihood of suffering from a stroke.  People who suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and sickle cell anemia are more likely to suffer a stroke than those who do not have these ailments.  

Lifestyle behaviors such as eating healthy, exercising regularly and not smoking can help prevent a person from suffering from a stroke.  

If you think you or someone you know has had a stroke it is vital to act quickly to get immediate medical care.  And if someone has already had a stroke, being vigilant to prevent reoccurrence is primary.

Dr. Majaz Moonis, Director of Stroke Services at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester believes that “the key to preventing second strokes is aggressive care and follow up.”  

In his stroke prevention and awareness clinics, Dr. Moonis teaches that patients taking aggressive measures for stroke prevention have managed to reduce the annual rate of recurrent strokes to 1.5 percent.

To learn more about strokes, you can visit the American Stroke Association at http://www.strokeassociation.org/.

published March 2010
Recognizing and Acting When a Stroke Occurs

Time is of the essence when someone has been, or is, suffering of a stroke. According to neurologists, if a stroke victim gets medical help within three hours of the onset, the effects can be completely reversed.

However, the symptoms of a stroke can be difficult to identify to the naked eye. To better identify the symptoms of a stroke, follow these three steps using the acronym: STR

Ask the person to:

S:
SMILE: a stroke victim will not be in control of facial muscles

T:
TALK and speak a simple sentence coherently

R:
RAISE BOTH ARMS

In addition to these three tasks, you can also ask the person to stick out his or her tongue; if it curves to one side it is an indication that the person has suffered a stroke.

If the victim has trouble with any of these requests, emergency medical attention should be sought immediately. It can make all the difference.




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