May is National Stroke Awareness Month in the United States, a time to educate the nation on stroke prevention, how to recognize symptoms of stroke, and the key to stroke recovery. Spreading awareness and providing educational and advocacy outlets is vital for helping the survivors of stroke improve their overall quality of life. According to the National Stroke Association, stroke deaths have declined by 10,000 Americans in recent years.
A stroke can most simply be defined as a sudden interruption of the blood supply flowing to the brain. Most strokes are caused by a sudden obstruction of the arteries leading to the brain. African Americans are twice as likely to die from stroke as Caucasians and are affected more by stroke than any other group, thus making the awareness of the signs and symptoms of stroke all the more important for individuals.
Some common signs of a stroke are:
- sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, (especially on one side of the body)
- sudden confusion
- trouble speaking or understanding
- sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- sudden trouble walking, dizziness, the loss of balance or coordination
- the rapid onset of a sever headache with no known cause
The National Stroke Association recommends immediately dialing 911 if any of these symptoms are present.
Risk factors for stroke include:
- high blood pressure,
- sick cell anemia
Individuals with these conditions should take extra precaution for their own health and well being in addition to speaking to their doctor about stroke prevention. Awareness and prevention are essential during Stroke Awareness Month to ensure that the number of American stroke victims continue to dwindle with the coming years.