Recognize the Signs of Stroke and Save a Life
A stroke is an interruption in the blood supply to any part of the brain (PubMed Health, 2011). There are two major types of stroke. The ischemic stroke is caused by clogged arteries. It happens when a blood vessel, supplying blood to the brain, is blocked by a clot. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a blood vessel in the brain becomes weak, bursts open causing blood to leak in the brain (PubMed Health, 2011). Here are a few interesting statistics published this year by the National Hospital Discharge Survey (NHDS). From 1989 to 2009, 7 million Americans have had a stroke. The direct medical cost for stroke related hospitalization was $18.8 billion in 2008. In 2009 and 2010 stroke was the 4th leading cause of death in the U.S. The rate of hospitalization for stroke increased from 32.4 to 34.9 per 10,000 population from 1989 to 1999, but by 2009 had decreased to 31.8 per 10,000. The rate of hospitalization for stroke, for the population aged 65 and over, increased with age in 1989, 1999, and 2009. The average age of stroke patients in 2009 was 70-71 years. From 1999 to 2008 the overall death rate in the United States from stroke declined 34%, from 61.6 per 10,000 populations to 40.6. Throughout the same period, the death rate among African Americans has increased. For example in 2008, the death rate from stroke for African American males was 62.2 per 10,000 and 53.4 per 10,000 for African American females, while the rate for white males was 39.8 and 38.4 for white females.
Demography, race, sex, age and education play a role on the individual’s risk of stroke. Many steps can be taken to lower the risk of the disease regardless of an individual background. Smoking cessation can decrease the risk of stroke. Cigarettes contribute to one of every five strokes in the United States. Smoking and second hand smoking can thicken the blood leading to increased plaque building in the arteries and damage to the blood vessels going to the brain and possible causing or worsen a stroke. Blood pressure control, exercise at least 30 minutes a day, a healthy diet low in sodium, maintaining a healthy weight, prevention and control of diabetes, taking cocaine and other illegal drugs and limit alcohol intake are, also, steps that can decrease the risk of stroke.
It is important to recognize the signs of stroke because the sooner the patient has access to medical treatment; the lower is the risk for death and permanent disability. If you see the following symptoms in someone you know, call 9-1-1 immediately:
- Paralysis and weakness on one side of the body
- Dizziness or abnormal feeling of movement
- Double vision, decreased vision or total loss of vision
- Loss of coordination
- Loss of balance
- Confusion and loss of memory
- Difficulty writing and reading
- Difficulty swallowing
- Numbness and strange sensations like tingling on one side of the body
- Muscle weakness in the face, arm, or leg (usually just on one side)
- Change in alertness
- Difficulty understanding or forming speech
- Personality, mood, or emotional changes
- Pain in the hands and feet
- Change in hearing
- Lack of control over the bladder and bowels
CDC (n.d.). Quick Stats: Age-Adjusted Death Rate from Stroke, by All Races, White or Black Race, and Sex in the United States, 1999-2008. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report; 60 (10): 316. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6010a8.htm?s_cid=mm6010a8_w
Hall MJ, Levant S, DeFrances CJ. Hospitalization for Stroke in U.S. Hospitals, 1989–2009. NCHS data brief, no 95. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012.
PubMed Health, ADAM Medical Encyclopedia. Bethesda, MD: U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001740/.
Contributing writer, Patrick Jean-Pierre