National Stroke Prevention Month: Young people are having strokes more than ever

National Stroke Prevention Month: Young people are having strokes more than ever
May is Stroke Prevention Month (Source: WBRC video)

(WBRC) - May is National Stroke Prevention Month and right now there is a major concern for doctors all over the United States. Young people are starting to have more strokes than ever before.

Statistics show every 40 seconds someone in the U.S. has a stroke, and every 4 minutes, someone dies from a stroke. These numbers are scary and now it is happening to younger generations.

George Howard, DrPH, School of Public Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham, says although the number is increasing, it is still a small number. "Why it is increasing is a bit of a mystery and it will probably remain a mystery for a little while," says Howard.

"Because again, fortunately so few people under 45 are having a stroke, it is hard to understand why they are having a stroke but also it is hard to understand why that number is changing."

Howard explains the two different types of strokes in terms of plumbing, "If you are a plumber, you can think of this as a plumbing problem and the water running to your bathtub or the blood running to your brain can not get their either because the pipe clogs up," says Howard.

"So the pipe running to the bathtub fills up with some material. And that is call an ischemic stroke if it is the blood flowing to your brain. And again as a plumber this is just simply that the pipe got clogged.  And the second type of stroke is hemorrhagic stroke and that is the pipe breaking."

About 85 percent of strokes are ischemic.

6 RISK FACTORS OF HAVING A STROKE
Hypertension High blood pressure
Diabetes The body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired
Smoking Smoking tobacco and inhaling tobacco smoke
Atrial fibrillation Irregular heartbeats
Left ventricular hypertrophy                                       The heart swelling
Heart disease Conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels 

"Unfortunately, strokes, unlike a heart attack, can be none painful. In other words, it is not a chest gripping or pain or anything," says Howard. "It is basically different parts of your body may not be working exactly correctly."

A stroke is a 911 emergency and you need to get to the hospital as soon as possible. There are several signs to look for and health officials use the acronym "FAST" to help you remember the symptoms.

FaceArmSpeechTime

If you are having a stroke, you may notice that your face is drooping, you can't move your arm and you are slurring your speech. Time is of the essence when this happens.

"Also interestingly, you can have a stroke where you don't understand what other people are saying to you," explains Howard. "In other words, you might be able to speak but somebody's speech to you seems garbled. And again, it is very, very, critically important to get to the hospital urgently. 911, ambulance."

There is some good news though. In the last 15 years the number of people dying from a stroke has dropped about 60%. This means that strokes are no longer the 3rd leading cause of death. Today, strokes are listed as the 5th leading cause of death in the United States.

Howard says the main thing to remember is that this is a 911 emergency and if you think you may be having a stroke to please get help.

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