May 1st marks the start of National American Stroke Month. The most common cause of stroke occurs when a blood clot interrupts the flow of blood to the brain. When this occurs, the effected brain cells which rely on the oxygen in blood, begin to die. It is estimated that a stroke event occurs in the U.S. every 40 seconds, and strokes are responsible for over 133,000 deaths per year. The purpose of this month-long public health event is to help educate Americans on stroke prevention, early detection, and treatment in the hopes of joining together to end stroke in the United States.
According to the American Stroke Association, 80% of strokes can be prevented. High blood pressure is the biggest contributor to strokes, so managing your blood pressure is crucial to stroke prevention. Obesity is a major factor that contributes to high blood pressure, and with an estimated 70% of Americans being considered overweight or obese, the risk of stroke for those individuals is high. Regular exercise paired with a healthy and balanced diet can help keep blood pressure at normal levels, which is considered anything below 120/80. For a list of heart healthy recipes, please read Metro’s article published for National Nutrition Month in March here. Tag us in your food or exercise pictures @MetroHealthPGH on Instagram or Twitter and include the hashtag #StrokeMonth for a chance to be featured on our website for National American Stroke Month!
Detecting a stroke in the early stages increases your chance of limiting damage and fully recovering. The American Stroke Association reports that 91% of stroke patients who were treated within 150 minutes of their first symptoms recovered with little or no long-term effects, and patients treated within the first 90 minutes were three times more likely to fully recover. The two most common effects of stroke are memory loss and muscle weakness. If you ever experience or witness someone experiencing sudden confusion, an inability to speak, single-side face drooping, or muscle weakness follow the F.A.S.T method to treatment: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911!
When a person suffers and ischemic stroke, or a stroke casued by a blood clot, the treatment involves clot-busting or clot-removal techniques. Alteplase is the only FDA-approved treatment for these type of strokes. If used administered within three hours of the stroke event, patients are expected to survive. Unfortunately, many people do not get to the hospital in time to receive this non-invasive treatment. If patients miss the three hour window, they have another three hours (six hours after the stroke event) to receive a mechanical thrombectomy. In this procedure, doctors use a stent retriever to remove the blood clot through a catheter that they thread through an artery in the groin. The best way to combat the effects of stroke is to pay attention to early detection clues and get to the hospital as soon as possible after exhibiting symptoms.
For more information on strokes, visit the American Stroke Association’s website here.