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Signs of a Stroke

Each day, nearly 2,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke or brain attack. On average, someone suffers a stroke ever 45 second and someone dies of a stroke every 3.1 minutes. Stroke is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States, with about 4.7 million stroke survivors alive today. Each year, more than $40 billion is spent on the care of individuals who have suffered a stroke. WMC treats approximately 500 patients per year for stroke related diagnoses.

Most strokes are caused by the build-up of plaque in the arteries carrying blood to the brain. It is believed by many healthcare professionals that 80% of all strokes could be prevented. There are many things you can do to reduce your risk of stroke.

Know your uncontrollable risk factors for stroke:

  • Age, for every decade over 55 years of age stroke risk increases
  • Gender, men have a slightly higher stroke risk than women
  • Family history, people with a family history of stroke are at risk for stroke themselves
  • Race, African Americans and Hispanics have 2-3 times the stroke risk of most other ethnic groups
  • Previous TIA (mini-stroke) or stroke, more than 1/3 of people who have TIA’s will go on to have a stroke and if you already had a stroke you are up to 10 times more likely to have another

Know your controllable risk factors for stroke and work with your physician who can guide you in making good choices to help decrease your risk.

  • High blood pressure is the single most controllable risk factor for stroke. Having high blood pressure increases stroke risk 4 to 6 times
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease and high cholesterol
  • Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart beat that can increase stroke risk 4 to 6 times
  • Smoking doubles your risk for stroke
  • Excess weight makes people more likely to have other stroke risk factors

Signs of Stroke/Brain Attack

  • Sudden Weakness/numbness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

If any of these signs occur, CALL 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY. Getting treatment within 60 minutes may prevent disability, and increase chances of survival. It may also facilitate the administration of the clot busting drug Alteplase, also known as TPA or the use of MERCI which is a clot removal device approved for stroke treatment in some patients.

For more information about the stroke program at Winchester Medical Center, please contact the Stroke Program Coordinator, Laurie Schutz BSN, RN, CNRN, SCRN at 540-536-3397 or lschutz@valleyhealthlink.com.

Winchester Medical Center is a National Stroke Association Stroke Center Network Member.

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