Kim Malsam-Rysdon, Secretary of Health

Stroke Prevention

F.A.S.T. Warning SignsA stroke (also called a brain attack) harms the brain the same way some heart attacks harm the heart. During a stroke, blood cannot get to part of the brain. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that brings oxygen and nutrients to the brain bursts or is clogged by a blood clot or some other particle. Because of this rupture or blockage, part of the brain doesn’t get the blood and oxygen it needs. Deprived of oxygen, nerve cells in the affected area of the brain die within minutes. This may cause symptoms, such as numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg or a sudden and severe headache. Some people have trouble walking, talking, or seeing. If you have any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately, just as you would if you were having a heart attack. If a stroke occurs, know what the symptoms of a stroke are. Be prepared to get medical help quickly if you have symptoms, even if they last for only a few seconds. The effects of stroke are serious. Fast treatment may result in better recovery.

  • Sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body
  • Sudden trouble walking, talking or seeing
  • Sudden and severe headache with no known cause

Stroke Statistics

  • Someone in the US has a stroke about once every 40 seconds.
  • Stroke accounts for 1 of every 20 deaths in the US.
  • Stroke kills someone in the US about every 4 minutes.
  • When considered separately from other cardiovascular diseases, stroke ranks No. 5 among all cause of death in the US, killing nearly 133,000 people a year.
  • Each year, about 795,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke. Approximately 610,000 of these are first attacks, and 185,000 are recurrent attacks.
  • Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability in the US.
  • In 2013, worldwide prevalence of stroke was 25.7 million, with 10.3 million people having a first stroke.
  • Stroke was the second-leading global cause of death behind heart disease in 2013, accounting for 11.8 percent of total deaths worldwide.

Statistics from the Heart disease and stroke statistics-2017 update: a report from the American Heart Association [published online ahead of print January 25, 2017].

Are You at Risk for a Stroke?

Risk factors are things that make you more likely to have a health problem.  You are at risk for a stroke if you have high blood pressure.  But your risk is even greater if you have high blood pressure and are older than age 55.  Look at the risk factors below and identify those you can change.  Talk to your physician about ways to lower your risk.

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking tobacco
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • African-American
  • Older than age 55
  • Temporary weakness on one side of your body, dizziness, or speech or vision problems
  • Male
  • Overweight
  • Previous stroke
  • Family history of stroke

Fast Action

911 graphicIf you think you are having a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately. Once in the hospital, you may have tests to find the location of the blockage. Certain types of drugs called “clot busters” can help dissolve blood clots and restore blood flow.  This may save brain tissue affected by the stroke and reduce damage. “Clot Busters” can only help if they are used within the first hours of a stroke. Know the Signs. Act in Time.

Call 9-1-1 Most symptoms of a transient ischemic attack, or TIA, and stroke come on suddenly. If you notice the following symptoms, don’t wait……

  • Sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body
  • Sudden trouble talking, walking, or seeing
  • Sudden and severe headache




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