National Stroke Awareness Month: Stroke Risk Factors and Symptoms

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Last week I shared my personal experiences with stroke, linked below in the Related Posts list. I hope these experiences help bring awareness to the effects of stroke on the individuals affected. However, it’s important for people to know some basic information about stroke.

You can learn about the risk factors for stroke and even answer a few questions to determine your own stroke risk at the National Stroke Association. Some risk factors – such as age or racial background – are outside your control. You can control, or at least reduce the risk, of others – such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight. The association provides Stroke Prevention Guidelines to help you reduce your risk of stroke.

Even if your own risk for stroke is low, you should be able to recognize the symptoms of stroke. Recognizing that your mother or grandfather or neighbor or coworker is having a stroke could save their life. According to the National Stroke Association:

  • Every 45 seconds in the United States someone experiences a stroke.
  • Each year more than 750,000 people in the U.S. experience a stroke.
  • Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and leading cause of adult disability.
  • Stroke is a medical emergency; Stroke is a รข”Brain Attack.”
  • Stroke is treatable within 3 hours of symptom onset.

If you see someone showing stroke symptoms, please don’t hesitate because you’re not sure they’re in danger. It’s far better that they make an unneeded trip to the emergency room than that they die because of delay in treatment!

I was blessed to make the recovery I have even though the chiropractor’s delay and covering up my condition meant I didn’t get to the hospital for several hours. Not everyone who has a delay in treatment is so lucky!

The symptoms of stroke that require observers to ACT F.A.S.T. are:
Face – ask the person to smile; if one side of the face droops, call EMS.
Arms – ask the person to raise both arms; if one arms drifts downward, call EMS.
Speech – ask the person to repeat a simple sentence; if speech is slurred or the person has difficulty repeating the sentence correctly, call EMS.
Time – if the person shows any of the above symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately. Brain cells are dying!

Because of my personal experience, I want to point out one little-recognized risk factor for stroke: chiropractic neck manipulation. When I had my stroke in 1992, the first article about this had just been published in a neurology journal. That study cited 18 known cases of stroke caused by chiropractic neck manipulation. Today a search at Entrez, the medical library of the National Institutes of Health, turns up 56 articles on chiropractic neck manipulation and stroke. The actual risk is not known; various sources estimate anywhere from 1 in 400,000 neck manipulations to 1 in 5.8 million manipulations.

The May 2007 issue of the popular lifestyle magazine Self has an article warning of this danger and telling the stories of several young women who have experienced such strokes. One woman’s story really hit home with me – when she complained to the chiropractor that something was wrong, he said her body was releasing toxins. Those were the same words my chiropractor used to explain my condition after my stroke!

Updated 7/23/07: The complete article mentioned above is now online at Deadly twist at the chiropractor.

If one person is saved from a stroke … if one person gets treatment on time because of my words … if one person becomes more aware of the risk factors, symptoms, and dangers of stroke, my posts on this subject will be worthwhile.

Related Posts:
National Stroke Awareness Month: My Stroke – the Beginning
National Stroke Awareness Month: My Stroke – The Next Three Days
National Stroke Awareness Month: My Stroke – the Aftermath

Updated 6/1/07: This is a QA Exchange Solution

[tags]stroke, National Stroke Awareness Month[/tags]

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