Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

May is National Stroke Awareness Month

Medical illustration: Cross-cut section of a brain indicating location of damaged tissue from a blood clot.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has useful stroke information at May is National Stroke Awareness Month
The Web page includes information about symptoms and healthy lifestyles.
Links are given to related podcasts and publications.


Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. It is also a leading cause of serious long-term disability. While most strokes occur in people aged 65 years or older, strokes can occur at any age.

Knowing the symptoms of stroke and calling 9-1-1 immediately if someone appears to be having a stroke are crucial steps in getting prompt emergency medical care for a stroke.  New treatments are available that can reduce the damage caused by a stroke for some victims, but these treatments need to be given soon after the symptoms start.

Know Your Signs and Symptoms

The American Stroke AssociationExternal Web Site Icon notes these five major signs of stroke:

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

If you think someone is having a stroke, you should call 9–1–1 or emergency medical services immediately.  Receiving immediate treatment is critical in lowering the risk of disability and even death.

Quick Facts

  • Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. In 2006, 137,119 people died from stroke in the United States.
  • Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability.
  • About 795,000 strokes occur in the United States each year. About 610,000 of these are first or new strokes. About 185,000 occur in people who have already had a stroke before.
  • Nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people aged 65 years or older. The risk of having a stroke doubles each decade after the age of 55.
  • Strokes can—and do—occur at ANY age. Nearly 25% of strokes occur in people younger than age 65.
  • Stroke death rates are higher for African Americans than for whites, even at younger ages.
  • According to the American Heart Association, stroke will cost almost $73.7 billion in both direct and indirect costs in 2010.
  • It has been noted for several decades that the southeastern United States has the highest stroke mortality rates in the country. It is not completely clear what factors might contribute to the higher incidence of and mortality from stroke in this region.
  • People with a family history of stroke have a higher risk.

Additional Resources

  • US National Stroke Association includes links to Warning Signs of Stroke (Use FAST to remember the warning signs), What is Stroke (basic information, myths, types of stroke, treatment),  Prevention information, and Ways to Stay Informed (newsletters, Facebook, Twitter, etc).
    It also includes a Stroke Awareness Center with useful information for those interested in educating and raising awareness (and the rest of us!)
  • American Stroke Association (Beta Version by the American Heart Assocation/American Stroke Association) with links to news stories, warning signs, and (hospital) stroke centers, Online Stroke Magazine, and more.
  • Stroke: MedlinePlus with links to overviews, news items, diagnosis/symptoms, treatments, related issues, specific conditions, organizations, videos, and much more.
  • Know Stroke logoKnow Stroke can help you learn the signs of stroke and the importance of getting to the hospital quickly. Fast medical action is key to successful recovery from stroke. Stroke strikes fast, and you should too.

May 3, 2011 - Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | ,

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