Category Archives: Stroke

You Have the Power To End Stroke

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death of Americans and the leading cause of death of long-term disability.  Stroke is perceived to be an age-related illness that you have no control over, but the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, says that it not the case. They report that you do have the power to end stroke by recognizing and controlling your personal risk factors and knowing how to respond in case of emergency.

The Power To End Stroke movement is the American Stroke Association’s national initiative to empower all Americans to recognize the symptoms of a stroke and take action to reduce their personal risk for suffering from this deadly and debilitating disease.

Stroke is a leading cause of disability and number four cause of death in the United States. Approximately 795,000 individuals will have a stroke each year; of these, 167,000 individuals will die and more will suffer a major disability.

And though stroke can happen to anyone at any time, studies have shown that African Americans are twice as likely to suffer a first-ever stroke compared to Caucasians because of having an higher incidence of stroke risk factors such as family history of stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Simple lifestyle changes like increasing your level of physical activity, quitting smoking, control of your cholesterol and blood pressure levels and maintaining a healthy diet are real areas in a person’s life that can be managed, according to the AHA/ASA. The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association’s Life’s Simple 7™ assessment measures seven lifestyle change areas and makes recommendations to improve each category.  It is available online at www.mylifecheck.heart.org.

While prevention is key to saving lives from stroke, early recognition of the number four killer can save lives in an emergency.

“More people need to know the signs and act quickly when they recognize it,” said Jason Greenberg, MD, Director of Stroke Rehabilitation at Helen Hayes Hospital and American Heart Association Board Member, “Stroke doesn’t have to mean death or disability. Quick recognition and action by bystanders to get the victim medical treatment will reduce chances for long term damage. A victim may have one or all of the signs. It’s important to call 9-1-1 as soon as possible.”
Stroke warning signs can come on suddenly.  The acronym “F.A.S.T.” is a simple way to remember stroke warning signs.

  • Face Drooping – Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop or is it numb?
  • Arm Weakness – Ask the person to raise both arms. Is one arm weak or numb? Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech Difficulty – Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “the sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly? Are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand?
  • Time to call 9-1-1 – If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.

The American Stroke Association’s “Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T.” smartphone app, is available now for free download. The simple tool can help spot the symptoms of a stroke, F.A.S.T. It includes stroke info, warning signs,

For more information on Power To End Stroke go to www.powertoendstroke.org.  You can also find out more about your risk for stroke, and stroke prevention by visiting www.strokeassociation.org.

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 Source: The American Heart Association

Your eyes may be a window to your stroke risk

In a study reported in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, researchers said retinal imaging may someday help assess if you’re more likely to develop a stroke — the nation’s No. 4 killer and a leading cause of disability.

“The retina provides information on the status of blood vessels in the brain,” said Mohammad Kamran Ikram, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study and assistant professor in the Singapore Eye Research Institute, the Department of Ophthalmology and Memory Aging & Cognition Centre, at the National University of Singapore. “Retinal imaging is a non-invasive and cheap way of examining the blood vessels of the retina.”

Worldwide, high blood pressure is the single most important risk factor for stroke. However, it’s still not possible to predict which high blood pressure patients are most likely to develop a stroke.

Researchers tracked stroke occurrence for an average 13 years in 2,907 patients with high blood pressure who had not previously experienced a stroke. At baseline, each had photographs taken of the retina, the light-sensitive layer of cells at the back of the eyeball. Damage to the retinal blood vessels attributed to hypertension — called hypertensive retinopathy — evident on the photographs was scored as none, mild or moderate/severe.

During the follow-up, 146 participants experienced a stroke caused by a blood clot and 15 by bleeding in the brain.

Researchers adjusted for several stroke risk factors such as age, sex, race, cholesterol levels, blood sugar, body mass index, smoking and blood pressure readings. They found the risk of stroke was 35 percent higher in those with mild hypertensive retinopathy and 137 percent higher in those with moderate or severe hypertensive retinopathy.

Even in patients on medication and achieving good blood pressure control, the risk of a blood clot was 96 percent higher in those with mild hypertensive retinopathy and 198 percent higher in those with moderate or severe hypertensive retinopathy.

“It is too early to recommend changes in clinical practice,” Ikram said. “Other studies need to confirm our findings and examine whether retinal imaging can be useful in providing additional information about stroke risk in people with high blood pressure.”

Co-authors are Yi-Ting Ong, B.Sc.; Tien Y. Wong, M.D., Ph.D.; Ronald Klein, M.D., M.P.H.; Barbara Klein, M.D., M.P.H.; Paul Mitchell, M.D., Ph.D.; Richey Sharrett, Dr.P.H.; and David J. Couper, Ph.D. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute funded the study.

SOURCE: American Heart Association