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University of Missouri Health Care News Releases
University of Missouri Health Care recognizes National Stroke Awareness Month

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Specialists at University of Missouri Health Care want to remind you that May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Roughly 795,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year, which means one every 40 seconds. Stroke is the No. 3 cause of death in the United States.

"By knowing the symptoms and risk factors of stroke, you can be prepared and react quickly if it ever happens to you or someone you know," said Leigh Kite, RN, BSN, stroke program coordinator at University of Missouri Health Care. "The quicker you receive treatment, the less likely you are to suffer a stroke-related disability or death."

A stroke occurs when blood vessels carrying oxygen and blood to the brain rupture or are blocked by a blood clot, starving brain cells of the blood they need to function. Without blood and a source of oxygen, brain cells begin to die within minutes, making quick response essential when dealing with a victim of stroke.

"It's important to know that even if you only have one symptom or the symptoms go away, it's vital to call 911 immediately," said Kite.

  • Stroke symptoms are sudden and include:
  • weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • confusion and trouble speaking or understanding
  • vision loss in one or both eyes
  • severe headache with no known cause
  • difficulty walking, dizziness and loss of balance or coordination

Risk factors that make people more susceptible to stroke include diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, heart disease, obstructive sleep apnea, smoking, obesity and inactivity. Modifying your risk factors and leading a healthy lifestyle, including eating a heart-healthy diet of low-fat and low-cholesterol food, avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol, can greatly reduce your risk of having a stroke, said Kite.

For more information about stroke awareness, please visit the American Stroke Association Web site at www.strokeassociation.org.

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