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World Stroke Day: Every Minute Matters

World Stroke Day: Every Minute Matters

On average, someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds in the United States. Over 13 million people worldwide will have a stroke each year, and around 5.5 million people will die as a result, according to the World Stroke Organization.

World Stroke Day is October 29 each year. It's an annual reminder that when it comes to stroke, every minute matters. A stroke occurs when the supply of blood to the brain is reduced or blocked completely. This prevents brain tissue from getting the oxygen and nutrients necessary to maintain normal function.

Fast access to treatment saves lives and improves recovery for patients experiencing a stroke. If you spot the signs of a stroke, call an ambulance immediately. Getting treatment within 60 minutes of symptoms can prevent disability and increase the chances of survival.

Use the letters in BE FAST to recognize stroke symptoms and get help immediately:

  • B: Balance. Sudden loss of balance.
  • E: Eyes. Blurred, double vision, or loss of vision in one or both eyes.
  • F: Face drooping or numbness on one side.
  • A: Arm weakness or numbness on one side.
  • S: Speech that is slurred, hard to understand, or the inability to speak.
  • T: Time. Call 911 immediately for any of these symptoms, even if they go away.

Symptoms of a stroke include weakness/numbness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body; confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding; trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking; dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; and sudden severe headache with no known cause.

The brain controls many functions including vision, speech, movement, thinking, reasoning, and understanding. A stroke can cause damage to the brain tissue, which can affect your ability to talk, move, walk, think, or swallow. Because of this, stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability.

The good news is there are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of stroke, including healthy eating, controlling diabetes, monitoring blood pressure, exercising, and quitting smoking and alcohol.

Rehabilitation after a stroke is important to help regain any function that has been lost and to reduce disability. A physical therapist can help you relearn to walk, improve your safety with everyday tasks, and help you regain your strength. An occupational therapist can help you relearn how to safely complete everyday activities such as dressing, bathing, preparing food, and medication management. A speech therapist can help you relearn how to speak and improve your ability to swallow.

If you have had a stroke, Valley Health’s rehabilitation specialists are ready to assist in your recovery. You may want to talk with your doctor about your options or visit this page to learn more about our Rehabilitation services and find a physical, occupational, or speech therapist near you.

Many thanks to Valley Health Physical Therapist Kenesha Shave, Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), for her collaboration on this article.