World Stroke Day – October 29th

— Written By Morgan McKnight

Every year, stroke kills more than 137,000 people. On average, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds and every four minutes someone dies of a stroke. This Wednesday, October 29th we are celebrating World Stroke Day and we want you to celebrate too by becoming aware of the stroke warning signs and helping make others aware too.

Stroke is the number four cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States. One in every 18 deaths is caused by stroke. There are many risk factors associated with stroke and it is important to be aware of these to know if you or someone you know could be at risk.

Factors such as age, family history, race, and sex are uncontrollable but still important to be aware of. Although, the chance of having a stroke doubles for each decade of life after age 55, it can happen at any age. People with family members who have had a stroke are at a greater risk of stroke themselves. African Americans have a higher risk than Caucasians, and women have a higher risk than men. People who have had a prior stroke, heart attack, or Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) – also known as “warning strokes” are all strong predictors of a stroke in the future as well.

The controllable factors include high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, diabetes, artery diseases, heart disease, high cholesterol, poor diet, and inactivity and obesity – to name a few. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is the leading cause of stroke making it the most important controllable factor. More than half of all strokes are caused by uncontrolled hypertension. Cigarette smoking puts people at a higher risk of stroke, especially for women when combined with the use of oral contraceptives. Poor diet, inactivity and obesity are all factors that normally cause many other health issues making them top controllable factors as well.

Eighty percent of all strokes are preventable. It is so important to manage the controllable key risk factors listed above, especially high blood pressure, smoking, atrial fibrillation – a heart rhythm disorder that causes the heart’s upper chambers to quiver instead of beating effectively, and physical inactivity. Some factors may require medical attention to control but it is important to seek out that attention to lower your risk for stroke.

Learning the stroke warning signs is just as important as being aware of the risk factors for a stroke. The American Stroke Association has developed an easy way to help you remember the warning signs by remembering the word FAST: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911. If one side of the face droops or is numb, if one arm is weak or numb, if speech is slurred call 9-1-1 right away, even if the symptoms go away and check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms occurred. Using this helpful tool can help save millions of lives.

This Wednesday we ask that you would take a moment to re-inform yourself and others of the risk factors and warning signs of stroke. For more information visit the American Stroke Association at

World Stroke Day

Written By

Morgan McKnight, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionMorgan McKnightExtension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences Call Morgan E-mail Morgan N.C. Cooperative Extension, New Hanover County Center
Posted on Oct 27, 2014
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