WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Tuesday is World Stroke Day and medical professionals want you to know the facts about strokes and how they can be prevented.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke is the leading cause of severe disability and death in the United States. Each year, almost 800,000 Americans have a stroke, and of those, more than 140,000 die.
“A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted and lack of oxygen causes brain cells to die. A stroke is a medical emergency and you must seek medical attention," said Gwen Earhart, a nurse with Senior Helpers.
Health professionals say that you need to act F.A.S.T. if you see someone or you think you yourself are having a stroke.
F.A.S.T. is an acronym that warns of the signs that someone is having a stroke:
Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of their face droop?
Arm: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred?
Time: If you observe any of these signs it’s time to call 9-1-1 immediately
About 80 percent of strokes can be prevented by making certain health and lifestyle changes.
On the CDC’s website, officials give a breakdown on ways you can help prevent strokes and list factors they say can put you at a higher risk for suffering a stroke.
Life can change drastically for stroke survivors and take an emotional toll on everyone including loved ones and caregivers.
"It’s frustrating for the patient and also for families who are unable to communicate because the communication is affected. So there will be a lot of speech and physical therapies for the patient,” says Earhart.
Senior Helper Nurse Sandi Johnson adds, “It can scary being discharged from the hospital. There’s resources if you don’t really know where to start, after a stroke, and finding the best resource that helps you find aid and getting you the support groups and the caregivers that you might need is important.”
Johnson and Earhart both say that it is very important for caregivers to find resources and outlets as well.