World Stroke Day is recognized on October 29th to raise public awareness of this serious medical condition, including identifying the symptoms and risk factors of stroke.
Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke, 1 which occurs if the blood supply to the part of brain is blocked or if a blood vessel bursts within the brain. Some of the consequences of stroke can be long-term disability, spasticity, brain damage or death.
An ischemic stroke occurs when blood clots or other particles block the blood vessels to the brain. Fatty deposits called plaque can also cause blockages by building up in the blood vessels.
A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel bursts in the brain. Blood builds up and damages surrounding brain tissue.2
To function properly, the brain needs up to 20% of the oxygen we breathe.3 During a stroke, the blood supply to the brain is reduced or blocked and deprives brain cells of oxygen. A lack of oxygen can cause damage or death to the cells within minutes and depending on which part of the brain is damaged, a person’s ability to speak, see and/or move could become impaired.
Use the letters in B.E. F.A.S.T. to identify a stroke.
B = Balance – Is the person having a hard time with balance or coordination?
E = Eyes – Is the person experiencing blurred or double vision or a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes without pain?
F = Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb?
A = Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S = Speech Difficulty – is speech slurred?
T = Time to call 9-1-1
During a stroke, every minute counts. If you or someone you are with shows any signs of a stroke, you should immediately call 9-1-1 and seek emergency care.
A stroke can happen to anyone at any age. Here are some of the common risk factors:
Medical Conditions: High blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes
Behaviors: Unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, alcohol and tobacco use
Work with your healthcare team to lower your risk factors of stroke.
After a stroke, survivors can often experience spasticity, and it may be observed in a prevalence as high as 80% of stroke survivors.4 The first signs of spasticity may appear as early as within four weeks after brain injury.5 Spasticity can impact posture, comfort and function, which could limit movement and coordination.
Hear Diana’s story, who is living with spasticity following a stroke at the age of 34.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Underlying Cause of Death, 1999–2018. CDC WONDER Online Database. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2018. Accessed September 29, 2021.
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