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Learn Your Risk for Stroke During American Stroke Month

Healthcare workers want you to learn more about a disease that kills thousands of people in the United State each year and leaves thousands more disabled. KSMU's Michele Skalicky has more...

More than 700,000 people suffer a stroke each year. It’s the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of long-term disability.May is American Stroke Month, a time set aside to focus on the risks and warning signs of the disease.Nancy Sadler, director of the Stroke Center at CoxHealth, says risk factors include high blood pressure—ideally, blood pressure should be 120/80—elevated cholesterol (bad cholesterol or LDL should be less than 100), a family history of stroke, heart disease, poor physical activity and diabetes.She says you should know your family history so problems can be prevented before they start. Stroke is sometimes thought of as a disease that affects only older adults. But Adler says it doesn’t discriminate…

"It doesn't matter your age, if you're male or female, if you're black, white or Hispanic, it affects us all. We see people here at Cox as young as theirearly 20s, as old as their 90s. It's a broad range."

Stroke in younger women has sometimes been associated with the use of oral contraceptives.Whatever the cause, Sadler says time is a critical factor…

"We would like you to get here within three hours of the onset of your stroke because we can give you a drug called TPA, which can help dissolve that clot and either completely resolve your symptoms orgreatly reduce the deficits that you would have."

She says remembering the acronym FAST—Face, Arm, Speech, Time (developed by the American Heart Association)—can help you remember the symptoms and the importance of getting help quickly.If your face is drooping, you lose the use of your arms and your speech is affected, it’s time to call 911. Don’t have someone drive you to the hospital—you need to call for an ambulance.Stroke can leave a person without the use of limbs, and speech, memory and vision can be impacted.Find out your risk for stroke at a free stroke screening offered by CoxHealth Thursday (5/20) from 7:30 to 1 in the Fountain Plaza Room at Cox North.Participants will take a risk assessment, learn about stroke and have a cholesterol test. Those at high risk will receive a carotid ultrasound with an EKG and will have a consultation with a physician.To register for the screening, call 269-LADY or visit coxhealth.com.