Mayo Clinic: Anyone can have a stroke

April is National Stroke Awareness Month

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It’s National Stroke Awareness Month and one of the biggest misconceptions about stroke is that it happens only to older people. While age is one of the risk factors and your chance increases with age, anyone can have a stroke.

According to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. A stroke, sometimes called a brain attack, occurs when a blockage stops the flow of blood to the brain or when a blood vessel in or around the brain bursts.

Although many people think of stroke as a condition that affects only older adults, strokes can and do occur in people of all ages. In fact, nearly a quarter of all strokes occur in people younger than age 65. Each year, almost 800,000 strokes occur in the United States.

A recent study our of the University of Gothenburg found heart failure and stroke are on the rise in men below the age of 40. The scientists found links to obesity and low fitness in the upper teens.

Know the signs and symptoms:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness on one or both sides of the body
  • Sudden loss of vision
  • Sudden inability to speak or understand
  • Sudden drooping of the face, arms, trouble walking
  • Worst headache of your life

“Thanks to advances in technology and medicine, we now have new treatments and therapies to treat stroke and reduce one’s risk of permanent damage — or death,” said David Miller, M.D., medical director of Mayo Clinic’s Comprehensive Stroke Center.

“Stroke remains a leading cause of serious long-term disability, such as paralysis, speech difficulties, memory issues and emotional problems,” he continued. “The cost of stroke is significant — somewhere between $34 billion to $70 billion annually related to health care and medication costs, rehabilitation, lost wages, etc. The latest numbers on heart disease and stroke statistics — the 2015 update from the American Heart Association, confirm that stroke remains a leading cause of serious long-term disability, such as paralysis, speech difficulties, memory issues and emotional problems.

The financial impact of stroke is significant. Some reports indicate stroke costs the United States approximately $34 billion each year. Others indicate that number is upwards of $70 billion annually. When combined with other, related cardiovascular issues, the cost rises to more than $312 billion a year — and the costs, which include the health care services, medications, lost wages, and other lifestyle necessities — continue to rise.”

There are things you can do to reduce and even prevent stroke:

  • Stop smoking
  • Control your blood pressure — and take your medication if its been prescribed
  • Lower and maintain your cholesterol
  • Maintain a heart-healthy diet and exercise

If you recognize one or any of the symptoms of stroke, call 911. Stroke is a medical emergency.