One in six people worldwide will have a stroke in their lifetime
One in three Americans cannot recall any stroke warning sign
SALT LAKE CITY, Oct. 28, 2014 — It was a typical day earlier this year and South Jordan resident Brent Haun started his morning routine of pushups and then a walk with his wife Kathy.
After returning from their walk, Brent sat down at the table to read the paper and Kathy left the the room for just a moment. When she returned, she found Brent bent over with a blank stare on his face and he couldn’t talk.
“I just knew he was having a stroke,” said Kathy.
Kathy called 9-1-1 immediately and within two minutes, emergency medical services (EMS) arrived on the scene and Brent was quickly transported to Jordan Valley Medical Center where he received tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), the clot dissolving treatment, within one hour of the onset of his symptoms. Today, Brent goes to physical therapy twice a week, is walking on his own, and “doing just fine,” says Kathy.
One in six people worldwide will have a stroke in their lifetime. In the United States, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds. Yet one in three Americans cannot recall any of the stroke warning signs.
In recognition of World Stroke Day on Oct. 29, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association urges people to learn the stroke warning signs since bystanders often need to act in an emergency.
“The patient doesn’t always recognize their own stroke and when they do, sometimes their symptoms make calling for help difficult, if not impossible,” said Matthew Grantz, M.D., Vascular Neurology, Jordan Valley Neurology Associates, Jordan Valley Medical Center. “Just like we need to learn CPR to save someone else’s life, we need to learn how to spot a stroke and act fast for the best chance of a positive outcome.”
The American Stroke Association’s Together to End Stroke initiative, nationally sponsored by Covidien, a global healthcare product company, teaches the acronym F.A.S.T. to remember stroke warning signs:
F – Face Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
A – Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S – Speech Difficulty: Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like, “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
T – Time to call 9-1-1: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.
“Those with loved ones who have stroke risk factors should make it a priority to learn F.A.S.T. and teach others,” said Grantz. “Recognizing a stroke and calling 9-1-1 gives the patient a greater chance of getting to an appropriate hospital quickly and being assessed for life-saving treatment like a clot-busting drug or medical device.”
Luckily, Kathy recognized the warning signs of stroke after a family member shared them with her. She encourages everyone to know the symptoms, too, and to call 9-1-1.
The association offers a free mobile app to help people spot a stroke and identify award-winning hospitals nearby.
This year, 795,000 people in the United States will have a first or recurrent stroke. In addition to a prior stroke, major stroke risk factors include:
Transient ischemic attack – About 15 percent of strokes are preceded by a TIA (or “mini stroke”).
High blood pressure – It’s the most important controllable risk factor for stroke. About 77 percent of people who have a first stroke have blood pressure higher than 140/90 mm Hg. An estimated 78 million Americans have hypertension.
Atrial fibrillation (Afib) – It increases stroke risk up to five times and affects more than 2.7 million Americans.
Smoking – Current smokers have two to four times the stroke risk of nonsmokers or those who quit more than 10 years ago. In 2011, 21.3 percent of men and 16.7 percent of women 18 or older were cigarette smokers.