You may be surprised to learn that the answer could be yes; stroke does not discriminate based on age, sex, or lifestyle.
“Last weekend I took care of a 23-year-old woman with an acute, disabling stroke—the unwanted surprise of her life,” says Dr. Creed Pettigrew, director of the University of Kentucky Stroke Program. “Stroke is not simply Grandpa in a wheelchair who can’t move one side of his body.”
Of the nearly 600 stroke patients admitted to the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center each year, 25 percent are below the age of 55.
More than 750,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year—that’s about 10 football stadiums full of people. Stroke is the leading cause of disability and the third leading cause of death in the United States.
Adults over 55, men, African-Americans, people with diabetes, and people with a family history of stroke are statistically more likely to have a stroke, but they are not the only ones at risk. Stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer, and half of all women will die of stroke or heart disease. Four out of five families will at some point be affected by stroke.
These are sobering statistics, but not cause for panic. There is good news—80 percent of strokes are preventable. You can act now to reduce your risk with some simple suggestions and a conversation with your family doctor.
The National Stroke Association wants everyone to know the symptoms of stroke:
1. Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg—especially on one side of the body.
2. Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
3. Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
4. Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
5. Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
If you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. If it is a stroke, every second counts. Stroke treatments are most effective when administered early. A delay increases the chance of brain damage, dementia, and paralysis. The NSA recommends immediately calling 911 or the emergency services number for your area if you see or have any stroke symptoms.
KEYWORD EXCLUSIVE: 10 WAYS TO REDUCE STROKE RISK
For guidelines from the National Stroke Association for reducing your stroke risk click here.