(RxWiki News) In commemoration of today's World Stroke Day the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging individuals to take a refresher in recognizing stroke symptoms.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, said that someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds, abruptly changing life for that person and their family. He noted that much more can be done to reduce the number of strokes.
"Learn the symptoms of stroke."
One of those ways is simply by knowing the symptoms of a stroke. Recognizing them and seeking immediate treatment can can affect survival and potential disability.
The sudden onset of any of these symptoms means the person requires immediate medical attention:
* 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, loss of balance or coordination
* Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
In addition, it's important to know the risk factors. According to the European Society of Cardiology, most of these same risks for stroke are also the major risks for coronary heart disease. Common heart rhythm disorder atrial fibrillation also has been linked to an increased risk of stroke.
Freek Verheugt, a professor from the Onze Lieve Vrouwe Gasthuis in Amsterdam, who spoke on behalf of the ESC, emphasized that stroke is not an inevitable consequence of growing old, so by identifying and modifying risk factors there are numerous opportunities to reduce how often stroke occurs and improve survival rates.
Even arriving at a medical facility minutes earlier can make a big difference in survival, with the World Stroke Organization noting that "time lost is brain function lost."
A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks the blood supply to the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, but risk can be modified by lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, and for some, medication.
About 137,000 Americans die of stroke every year, and it remains one of the leading causes of death in the United States.