May is National Stroke Awareness Month in the United States. Sponsored by the National Stroke Association (NSA), this month is dedicated to activities that will increase public awareness about stroke and its prevention.
Stroke or cerebrovascular accident (CVA) is a serious, life-threatening condition that occurs when the blood supply to an area of brain is interrupted or reduced. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the US and is a major cause of adult disability. According to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 800,000 people experience new or recurrent strokes each year. The lifetime risk of CVA is considered greater in men than in women. According to the National Stroke Association (NSA), 55,000 more women have a stroke than men. The good news is that stroke can be prevented by identifying your risk factors and reducing these risk factors. It’s also important that every individual knows how to recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke as fast response can help save a life.
May was officially designated as “National Stroke Awareness Month” by President George. H.W Bush on May 11, 1989. Since then, the event has grown to become a significant initiative to raise public awareness about CVA and enhance quality of life of people coping with the sudden and long-term effects of this serious condition.
Lifestyle factors such as physical inactivity, obesity, heavy or binge drinking, smoking or second-hand exposure to smoke and use of illicit drugs can contribute to CVA. In addition, medical factors such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea and cholesterol can also increase the risk of CVA. National Stroke Awareness Month aims to educate people about the immediate symptoms, risk factors and preventive measures associated with CVA.
Lifestyle modifications integrating physical exercises and healthy diet patterns help prevent or reduce the risk of stroke. The bold annual campaign places emphasis on making the public aware about “Acting FAST”. According to the NSA, about 80% of this disease can be treated or prevented if people act FAST. FAST is an acronym for things to check in a suspected stroke victim:
• F – Face / Does the face droop on one side when the person smiles?
• A – Arm / After raising both arms, does one of the arms drift downwards?
• S – Speech /After repeating a simple phrase, does the persons speech sound slurred or strange?
• T – Time / If any or all of the above signs are observed call for 9-1-1 (if in US or 999 in UK) and ask for medical assistance.
Let’s join hands to generate more awareness about CVA. To take the pledge to live a healthier life, visit http://www.stroke.org/