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Medical Monday: Stroke Month

Posted: 7:24 PM, May 02, 2016
Updated: 2016-05-03 13:10:40Z
Dr. Ziad Darkhabani is an interventional neurologist with Aurora BayCare. He joined us on “Wisconsin Tonight” to discuss Stroke Month.
 
Stroke is a major health concern in the United States. It’s the fifth-leading cause of death, claiming about 130,000 American lives each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s about one of every 20 deaths. So Stroke Month is indeed a necessary observation for educating the public about all things stroke.
 
A stroke is essentially a “brain attack.” It can happen to anyone at any time. It occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off. Brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die, abilities controlled by that area of the brain are lost. Stroke can result in physical challenges such as paralysis, seizures, muscle tightness, stiffness and fatigue. It can affect communication – speech, language, reading and writing. It also can drastically alter one’s emotional and behavioral state.
 
The risk of stroke doubles every decade after age 55. People with a family history of stroke are also at increased risk. Still, everyone should be informed of stroke risk, the signs and symptoms. This neurological disease threatens millions of Americans from every age group and background. Fortunately, it’s largely preventable and treatable.
 
What are common symptoms of stroke?
 
Stroke symptoms include the following:
 
* Sudden vision changes
* Trouble speaking or slurred speech
* Dizziness or balance problems
* Unusual and severe headache
* Numbness in your face
* Weakness or tingling in your face, arms or legs
 
Call 911 right away and get emergency help, even if the symptoms stop. These are warning signs that a stroke might be occurring … or the person in question is at high risk for having one soon.
 
What should we do if we suspect someone is having a stroke?
 
Act FAST: Use this acronym to quickly identify a person experiencing stroke:
 
Face – Ask the person to smile. Check to see if their smile is uneven, droops or is numb.
Arms – Ask the person to raise both arms. Check if one arm is weak and drifts downward.
Speech – Ask the person to speak. Listen for slurring. Are they unable to speak?
Time – Call 911 at the first sign of stroke. Note the time the symptoms began.
 
Avoid stroke by taking care of your health. That includes:
 
* Maintaining a healthy blood pressure
* Exercising more
* Eating a healthier diet
* Maintaining a healthy weight
* Quitting smoking
* Treating your diabetes
 
For more information, call Aurora BayCare Medical Center-Interventional Neurology at (920) 288-8044.