A stroke occurs when blood flow to part of the brain is blocked; we sometimes refer to it as a “brain attack.” Two million brain cells die every minute during stroke, increasing the risk of permanent brain damage, disability or death.
In the United States, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death, killing over 133,000 people each year, and a leading cause of serious, long-term adult disability. Stroke can happen to anyone at any time, regardless of race, sex or age.
High blood pressure is the leading risk factor for stroke. However, other risk factors include:
- Atrial fibrillation
- Family history of stroke
- High cholesterol
- Increasing age (esp. over 55)
- Race (black people have almost twice the risk of first-ever stroke than white people)
- Heart disease
- Lifestyle factors (smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise)
Women are twice as likely to die from stroke than breast cancer annually. The estimated direct and indirect cost of stroke in the United States in 2010 is $73.7 billion.
Learning the signs of stroke are crucial, because time is of the essence when a stroke is occurring. Two million brain cells die every minute during stroke, increasing risk of permanent brain damage, disability, or death. Recognizing the symptoms and acting FAST to get emergency medical attention can save a life and limit disabilities.