Keep tuned in to the subtle signs of stroke

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The signs may be subtle, but your future health or that of someone else depends on you being tuned in.

The condition is stroke, the No. 3 killer and leading cause of disability in Nebraska and nationwide. The Nebraska Department and Health and Human Services, stroke claims the lives of about 1,100 Nebraskans each year.

Nationally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Heart Association:

* Stroke killed 275,000 people in 2002 and accounted for about 1 of 16 deaths in the United States.

* Stroke remains the third leading cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer.

* Stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States. In 1999, about 1,100,000 Americans reported difficulties with daily living because of a stroke.

* Some 28 percent of people who suffer a stroke in a given year are under age 65.

* About 50 percent of stroke deaths in 2003 occurred out of hospital.

* On average, someone in the United States suffers a stroke every 45 seconds; every 3 to 4 minutes, someone dies of a stroke.

* About 4.7 million stroke survivors (2.3 million men, 2.4 million women) are alive today.

* Among persons 45 to 64 years old, 8-12 percent of ischemic strokes and 37-38 percent of hemorrhagic strokes result in death within 30 days.

* Quitting smoking reduces your stroke risk to that of a non-smoker in five years.

During May, National Stroke Month, the American Academy of Neurology, American College of Emergency Physicians and American Stroke Association have teamed up to create "Can you give me 5?," an easy method for remembering all five signs of stroke:

1. Walk (Is their balance off?)

2. Talk (Is their speech slurred or face droopy?)

3. Reach (Is one side weaker than the other?)

4. See (Is their vision all or partly lost?)

5. Feel (Is their headache severe?)

All stroke symptoms are sudden, experts warn. Do not ignore symptoms, even if they go away. It could be a TIA -- transient ischemic attack -- or mini stroke. Call 9-1-1 and get to the hospital emergency room fast.

At the hospital, say "I think I'm having a stroke" or let medical personnel know the person you're bringing in may be having a stroke.

This will help in getting fast treatment that may dramatically improve recovery odds.

Take a moment and memorize the five signs of stroke. You or someone you know may be thankful you do.

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