A stroke occurs when brain cells suddenly die due to a lack of oxygen. A rupture of an artery that feeds the brain or a blockage in the blood flow are the most common causes of strokes. The victim may suddenly lose the ability to speak or recall memories and/or become paralyzed on one side their body. While some fully recover, however, about 2/3 of survivors will have some type of disability as a result of the stroke.
Here are some statistics about strokes:
- Strokes are the fourth leading cause of death in America and a leading cause of adult disability.
- Up to 80% of strokes are preventable
- There are an estimated 7 million stroke survivors in the U.S. over age 20
- From 1998 to 2008, the annual stroke death rate fell by approximately 35%, and the actual number of deaths fell by 19%
- Women are twice as likely to die from a stroke than breast cancer
Two million brain cells die every minute during stroke, increasing risk of permanent brain damage, disability or death. Recognizing symptoms and acting FAST (see below) can save a life and limit disabilities.
Obviously, as with other afflictions and conditions, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the first step to avoiding a stroke. Excessive drinking, smoking, and obesity increases your risk of a stroke. Use the guidelines below to keep an eye on your stroke risk factor.
- Know your cholesterol levels: High cholesterol levels can increase your risk of a stroke. See a doctor if your total cholesterol level is more than 200.
- Know your blood pressure: Another risk factor is high blood pressure. Periodically check your blood pressure at the doctor’s office, local pharmacy or supermarket, or buy your own blood pressure monitor.