Image is from National Stroke Association
The National Stroke Awareness Month is an event that occurs during the month of May every year in the United States. This annual event is observed to promote public awareness of stroke in the United States, help save lives of people experiencing a stroke, and reduce the incidence of the disease in America. Crucial resources for stroke survivors are mostly unveiled during this period by various concerned parties.
The National Stroke Awareness Month commenced in May 1989 under President George H. W. Bush. As mentioned earlier, it aims to promote public awareness by warning the masses on the signs and symptoms of stroke and how to prevent it. During this month, the public is well informed of the risk factors of stroke and how it impacts on caregivers, families, and survivors. It is also a timely reminder of survivors of stroke and how organizations like the National Stroke Association supports them throughout their lifetime journey of recovery.
Apart from the United States government, other key players that combine efforts to educate American citizens include; the American Heart Association, numerous non-profit organizations, and the National Stroke Association.
Warning signs and symptoms of stroke
This momentous program emphasizes on informing the masses about Acting FAST. The National Stroke Association suggests that 80% of strokes can be prevented if individuals can act FAST since the victims can get treated. FAST is an acronym for the following signs of stroke that can be witnessed in a suspected victim:
- F – Face / Check if the face droops on one side when the suspected victim smiles
- A – Arm / Confirm if one of the arms drifts downwards when you raise both arms of the suspected victim
- S – Speech / Notice if the suspected victim’s speech sounds slurred after they repeat a simple phrase
- T – Time / If you observe any of the above, call 9-1-1 (if in US or 999 in UK) and ask for medical assistance.
Other symptoms that may come along with FAST signs include:
- Sudden dizziness
- Sudden loss of coordination or balance
- An ‘impromptu’ headache without a known cause
- Rapid confusion and trouble understanding speech or talking
- Sudden trouble seeing
- Sudden numbness on one side of the body
Types of Stroke
There are three main types of stroke namely; Ischemic, Hemorrhagic, and Transient Ischemic Attack.
- Ischemic (clots)
This type of stroke accounts for around 87 percent of all cases of stroke. It’s brought about by a hindrance within a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain.
- Hemorrhagic (bleeds)
This is a type of stroke that is brought about by a rapture of a weakened blood vessel. Aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are the two main types of weakened blood vessels that cause bleeds. However, high blood pressure (hypertension) is the most common cause of hemorrhagic stroke.
- TIA (transient ischemic attack)
TIA is mostly caused by a temporal clot. Although it’s mostly referred to as a “mini stroke”, it should be taken very seriously.
Prevention of Stroke
Strokes can be prevented since 80 percent of strokes occur due to an unhealthy lifestyle. Although few risk factors including race and age are uncontrollable, there are numerous steps individuals can undertake to significantly reduce their chances of falling victims of stroke.
Identifying the signs and symptoms of stroke is crucial since tPA (a clot-busting drug) can only be administered within the first three hours of the stroke’s onset. For this same reason, the National Stroke Awareness Month is observed to educate the public on how to recognize the symptoms of stroke.