May is American Stroke Awareness Month, and Abilene Regional Medical Center urges Abilene and the surrounding communities to participate by taking time to learn about warning stroke warning signs.
Stroke is the third leading cause of death, behind cancer and heart disease. A cardiovascular disease that affects the blood supply to the brain, stroke occurs when a blood vessel or artery is blocked by a blood clot or bursts. When this happens, the area of the brain that is supplied with oxygen and nutrients by this blood vessel is damaged. As a result, the body part or function controlled by this part of the brain doesn't operate the right way.
Another frightening statistic: according to the National Stroke Association, people who have a stroke are four times as likely to have another stroke during their lifetime. Recurrent strokes carry an even higher risk of death and disability because the brain has previously been injured by the original stroke.
A stroke can change a person's life forever. It can leave the victim with moderate to severe physical, mental or psychological disabilities. Depending on the area of the brain affected, a stroke victim may lose their memory, speech, balance, certain fine motor skills, control over certain muscles or movement of entire limbs - even paralysis of one side of the body. A person's personality or behavior can be forever changed by a stroke. They may have difficulty reading, processing information or even eating.
About 87 percent of all strokes are ischemic strokes, where a blockage of a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain occurs. The clot can form in the brain area, or in a blood vessel elsewhere in the body - the heart, chest area or neck - where it can break loose and travel to the brain. The remaining 13 percent are called hemorrhagic strokes - strokes caused by a weakened blood vessel that breaks and bleeds into the surrounding brain tissue. A brain aneurysm refers to the bulging of the weakened blood vessel, which continues to weaken and, if not treated, breaks and bleeds into the brain.
A stroke is an emergency - and mere seconds can make an enormous difference in the outcome for a stroke survivor. If a stroke victim receives immediate medical assistance, a clot-busting drug can be administered by medical personnel within three hours of first symptoms which may reduce the likelihood of long-term disability resulting from a stroke. The quicker that medical care is received, the greater a stroke victim's chances are of not only surviving a stroke, but minimizing its effects.
To learn more, visit www.AbileneRegional.com and click on the Health Resources link to take one of our interactive quizzes on Stroke Risks or Stroke: Test Your Knowledge.
Sources: National Stroke Association, stroke.org; American Stroke Association, strokeassociation.org.