The five leading causes of death in the United States are heart diseasecancerchronic lower respiratory diseases COPD, stroke, and unintentional injuries. Together they accounted for 63 percent of all U.S. deaths in 2010, with rates for each cause varying greatly from state to state. The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, analyzed premature deaths (before age 80) from each cause for each state from 2008 to 2010. The authors then calculated the number of deaths from each cause that would have been prevented if all states had same death rate as the states with the lowest rates. Center for Disease Control and Prevention  


They found 33 percent of premature stroke deaths could prolong about 17,000 lives.

Stroke risks include:

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • heart disease
  • diabetes
  • overweight
  • previous stroke
  • tobacco use
  • alcohol use
  • lack of physical activity


What Happens During a Stroke

If something happens to interrupt the flow of blood, brain cells start to die within minutes because they can’t get oxygen. This is called a stroke. Sudden bleeding in the brain also can cause a stroke if it damages brain cells. A stroke can cause lasting brain damage, long-term disability, or even death.

If brain cells die or are damaged because of a stroke, symptoms of that damage start to show in the parts of the body controlled by those brain cells.

Stroke is a medical emergency. Know the signs and symptoms of a stroke and call 9-1-1 right away if you think someone might be having a stroke. Getting fast treatment is important to preventing death and disability from stroke. Learn stroke risks and signs of a stroke!

Signs of Stroke in Men and Women

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

Call 9-1-1 immediately if you or someone else has any of these symptoms.

Acting F.A.S.T. Is Key for Stroke

Acting F.A.S.T. can help stroke patients get the treatments they desperately need. The most effective stroke treatments are only available if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within 3 hours of the first symptoms. Stroke patients may not be eligible for the most effective treatments if they don’t arrive at the hospital in time.

If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. and do the following simple test:

F—Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A—Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S—Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
T—Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Note the time when any symptoms first appear. Some treatments for stroke only work if given in the first 3 hours after symptoms appear. Do not drive to the hospital or let someone else drive you. Call an ambulance so that medical personnel can begin life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency room.

Your Genetic Risk for Stroke

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes all have genetic components, so if you have a parent or close relative who had these conditions and also had a stroke, it’s likely you could share those risk factors.  Even without these stroke-related conditions, however, a parent’s stroke seems to be a significant risk factor alone. Research has shown that children with parents who have suffered a stroke by age 65 are more likely to also have a stroke themselves and a parent’s stroke was a significant risk factor for adult children, regardless of gender.

Many years ago the wife of a family friend had a stroke as a younger adult and her only son also had a stroke. If someone in your family has had a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA)—also known as a mini-stroke, consider a medical consultation to determine your risk.


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