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May – National Stroke Month (05-25-2004) 

During 2004, an estimated 700,000 in the United States will have strokes. Of these, about 160,000 (23 percent) will die. Nearly half these deaths will occur before patients are transported to hospitals, and 15 to 30 percent of stroke survivors will be disabled permanently, according to the American Heart Association.

Stroke is an emergency event requiring immediate action. Friends, relatives and co-workers of persons at high risk – those with uncontrolled high blood pressure or a history of transient ischemic attacks, atrial fibrillation, diabetes, stroke or heart attack – and the general public need to be aware of stroke warning signs and how they should act to help.
The American Heart Association lists these five major warning signs of stroke:

  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Recognizing the warning signs and making immediate calls to 911 for emergency medical care are critical first steps toward obtaining appropriate emergency treatment that might prevent death and disability.

Studies have found a lack of awareness in the general public of several of these warning signs, especially sudden trouble seeing and sudden severe headache with no known cause. National Stroke Awareness Month draws attention to efforts by organizations such as The Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health on increasing the public's awareness and understanding of this health risk.

Particular attention should be paid to prevent stroke by controlling risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation.

A survey on 12,827 active employees and dependents and 13,057 retirees for a total 25,884 PPG covered lives revealed that about 7000 were treated for Hypertension and about 2000 for Cardiac Dysrhythmias. Of these 23% were younger than 65. Atrial fibrillation alone is a key condition to control. A clot may build in the fibrillating, therefore still, atrial chamber of the heart and clot fragments may detach to be shot up to the brain via the circulatory system and bring about a stroke.

The CDC offers information about stroke prevention and the national stroke registry at www.cdc.gov/cvh and NIH provides stroke information at www.ninds.nih.gov. Also visit www.strokeassociation.org and www.stroke.org for more helpful facts about stroke.