May Is National Stroke Awareness Month

This month is National Stroke Awareness Month. It has been shown that young adults are having strokes at an increasingly alarming rate and 73% of them have no idea how to spot the warning signs of stroke. With more than 795,000 strokes occurring in people of all ages every year in the United States, it is critical for Americans to adopt preventive lifestyle habits, know the warning signs and understand the treatment options should a stroke occur.

During Better Hearing and Speech Month in May, everyone is urged to become stroke savvy, said Megan DeVries, MS, CCC-SLP, a speech-language pathologist at Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital. For Americans who survive a stroke, quality of life is an important issue. Stroke can harm one’s ability to walk, get dressed and bathe independently. It can also harm attention, memory, thinking, swallowing and the capacity to speak and communicate.

“A person’s ability to communicate is the foundation of just about everything they do, and every interaction they have,” DeVries said. “The degree to which communication skills are restored affects stroke survivors’ social interactions and relationships, employment success and overall satisfaction and participation in life. Treatment from a speech-language pathologist can make a transformative difference in helping people enjoy a fulfilling post-stroke life.”

Although it’s more common in older adults, stroke can affect anyone. In fact, stroke is trending upward in younger Americans. A recent study showed that the rate of stroke increased by 147 percent in people ages 35 to 39 and 101 percent in people ages 40 to 45.

Although not all strokes are preventable, certain lifestyle habits can reduce a person’s risk of having a stroke. Factors that work in a person’s favor include maintaining a healthy diet and low cholesterol, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol consumption and not smoking.

If you suspect someone is having a stroke, remember the acronym FAST:

  • Face – Ask the person to smile. Does one side droop?
  • Arms – Ask the person to raise both arms. Is one arm weaker?
  • Speech – Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
  • Time – If you see any of these signs call 9-1-1 right away.

People who arrive at the emergency room within three hours of the onset of stroke symptoms often have less disability three months after a stroke than those who receive delayed care, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Information provided by SNLH