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May is Stroke Awareness Month

Part 1 of a 2-Part Series

National Stroke Awareness Month is an annual event held each May since 1989, designed to make Americans aware that they may be able to “Save the Life” of a person experiencing a stroke…be it a co-worker, friend, neighbor or family member. In fact, knowing what causes a stroke, what you can do to prevent one and what to do if you or someone else may be experiencing a stroke could save a life—possibly even your own. In this first of a two-post series, we will discuss the nature and causes of strokes as well as the ways to prevent and identify strokes.

According to the CDC, the National Stroke Association and the Mayo Clinic, stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and is also a leading cause of serious long-term disability. There are approximately 795,000 new strokes reported in America each year. And although the majority of strokes strike people who are aged 65 years or older, strokes can actually occur at any age. In fact, according to a new study, Trends of Acute Ischemic Stroke Hospitalizations in the U.S., the CDC found that stroke hospitalizations have increased among both males and females aged 5–44 years old, raising concern about young people who might not be aware that they, too, could suffer from strokes.

A stroke or “brain attack” occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. Brain cells die when they no longer receive oxygen and nutrients from the blood or when they are damaged by sudden bleeding. When these cells die during a stroke, the victim loses those abilities that are controlled by that area of the brain. These abilities include speech, movement and memory. How a stroke patient is affected depends on where the stroke occurs in how much of the brain is damaged.

For example, someone who has a small stroke may experience only minor problems such as weakness of an arm or leg. People who have large strokes may be paralyzed on one side or even lose their ability to speak. Although some people recover completely from strokes, more than 2/3 of survivors incur some type of disability.

The good news is that up to 80% of strokes are preventable. So, armed with the right information, you can prevent a stroke! The best thing you can do to prevent a stroke is to familiarize yourself with stroke symptoms. And, if you or anyone appears to be suffering a stroke, immediately call 911. Do not delay. Don’t worry about being embarrassed if the symptoms turn out to be something other than a stroke. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. In fact, calling at once is crucial in order to ensure treatment is administered in a timely fashion. Given at the onset of a stroke, new treatments can actually reduce the severity of a stroke for some victims.

The most common warning signs of a stroke are sudden:

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding or problems with memory, spatial orientation or perception
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes, blurred or double vision
  • Trouble walking, dizziness or loss or balance or coordination
  • Severe headache with no known cause which may be accompanied by a stiff neck, facial pain, pain between your eyes, vomiting or altered consciousness

“Every minute counts,” according to Karen Phillips, RN and clinical coordinator for Samaritan Stroke Services. “When someone is having a stroke, the sooner they are treated, the greater their chances are of having a complete recovery or experiencing limited damage. When strokes are treated within three hours with “clot-busting” medication, most patients will do very well, but that drug will not be as effective after three hours from the onset of the stroke, so time truly is of the essence.”

For more about strokes, check out next week’s Allied Universal blog posts. In the meantime, when a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 3.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. What’s more, the NEW Allied Universal Property Messaging System is included FREE for all Allied Universal Online Training System users. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information.

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