What do six U.S. Presidents have in common with well-known people like Dick Clark, Mary Kay Ash or Hugh Hefner? Answer: Each person suffered a stroke during his or her lifetime. And, they're not alone. Other famous stroke victims include Novelist Charles Dickens, Baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams and "Peanuts" Cartoonist Charles Schultz. But, you don't have to be a celebrity to have one.
Every year, nearly 795,000 Americans experience a stroke and it's the number three killer in the U.S.
A stroke is a disease that affects arteries leading to and within the brain. The National Stroke Association officials define it as a "brain attack" which cuts off vital blood and oxygen to a person's brain cells. That's why, it's critical to remember a stroke is a medical emergency. Here are five warning signs to keep in mind:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg - (especially on one side of the body);
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding;
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes;
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; and
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
If you're experiencing one or more of these warning signs, IMMEDIATELY call 9-1-1.
Don't neglect these warning signs because there's a clot-busting drug, if given within 3 hours of the start of symptoms, may reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke.
It's also important to know who is at high risk for a stroke. For instance, here are a few factors:
Although stroke kills 144,000 Americans each year, there are preventative measures that can be taken. It may mean lifestyle changes since smoking doubles the risk for stroke and heavy drinking of alcohol is harmful. Obesity and lack of exercise also increases the likelihood of stroke. Addressing these particular factors may reduce the risk of stroke for you or your loved ones.
- Being over age 60
- Having diabetes
- Having high blood pressure
- Having high cholesterol
- Having a family history of atherosclerotic or circulatory problems