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May is American Stroke Month

Last updated on Saturday, May 5, 2018

(INDIANAPOLIS) - Every 40 seconds someone in the United States suffers a stroke. While survivability has improved dramatically over the last 30 years, stroke remains the fifth-leading cause of death in this country and a leading cause of long-term disability.

During May, which is American Stroke Month, the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, are encouraging people to learn the warning signs of a stroke.

People can recognize the signs of a stroke by remembering the acronym F.A.S.T.

F stands for sudden drooping on one side of the face.
A stands for sudden weakness in one arm.
S stands for sudden difficulty in speaking.
T stands for time to call 9-1-1.

"In many cases, stroke is treatable," said Dr. Jeffrey Hilburn, a neurologist on the American Heart Association's board of directors in Indianapolis. "But time is of the essence. During a stroke, blood flow is cut off to the brain. For every minute that it goes untreated, millions of brain cells die. It's critical to recognize the symptoms and to call 9-1-1 to get medical help right away."

Treatment for stroke includes both clot-busting drugs and clot-removal devices with the best outcomes occurring when patients are treated within several hours of the onset of symptoms.

"Nearly 800,000 people have a stroke every year, but we're working hard to educate people that strokes, just like heart disease, are preventable," Hilburn said. "High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for stroke. People should take time to get their blood pressure checked and talk with their doctor about how to keep it under control."

Other preventative measures include eating a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly and not smoking.

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