Number 5 Cause of Death
In the past weeks, we have been discussing the number 1 cause of deaths in the U.S., cardiac arrests and heart disease. Without looking, what is the number 5 cause of death? If you thought of strokes, you are correct. According to the American Stroke Association and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 795,000 Americans will have a stroke this year, and sadly, just over 200,000 will be fatal.
What is a stroke?
A stroke is a disruption in the blood flow in the brain. The two common causes are a blockage in a blood vessel (an ischemic attack), or a blood vessel rupturing (a hemorrhagic attack). You may have heard the acronym T.I.A. That is a transient ischemic attack, or a mini stroke. In these cases, the area of the brain that is affected by the lack of blood flow is not able to get the oxygen and nourishment needed.
What are the symptoms of a stoke?
You may be familiar with the F.A.S.T. acronym for stroke symptoms:
Time – to call 9-1-1.
But there are other symptoms too. If any of these occur suddenly, it could also mean that someone is having a stroke and you must call for professional help immediately (9-1-1):
- Numbness or weakness, usually on one side of the body.
- Confusion and/or trouble understanding speech.
- Trouble seeing, in one or both eyes.
- A severe headache with no known cause.
What to do if you suspect a stroke?
Get help NOW! Strokes can be treatable if the person can get to a hospital or to professional help immediately. Call 9-1-1. If you suspect you are having a stroke and can’t speak, get someone’s attention to help you, or use the emergency feature on your cell phone. Most new smart phones have an emergency call feature. Call takers are trained to assist those who can’t speak or whose speech is garbled or slurred.
Can you prevent a stroke from happening?
Most often, the answer is yes. It is estimated that up to 80% of strokes may be preventable. You can control many of the common factors with that can lead to a stroke the help of a healthcare professional, and by doing the following:
- Control your blood pressure.
- Control your cholesterol.
- Control your blood sugar.
- Control your activity level.
- Control your diet. Learn to love your vegetables.
- Control your weight, keeping it within healthy limits.
- Control smoking by stopping or never starting.
To learn more about strokes, treatment and prevention, please visit the American Stroke Association.