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Stroke Awareness Day highlights national issue

April 29, 2002

The American Stroke Association and Washington County Hospital have teamed up for Stroke Awareness Day Wednesday, May 8.

Washington County Hospital will offer free blood pressure screening and stroke risk assessment testing at the following five locations:

l Martin's Food Market on Dual Highway (next to the pharmacy) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

l Martin's Food Market at Fountainhead Plaza (next to the pharmacy) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

l Target (next to the pharmacy) near the Valley Mall from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

l Valley Mall (near Bon-Ton) from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.

l Robinwood Medical Center (Community Room, Suite 102) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

No registration is required and screenings are free. For more information, call Washington County Hospital at 301-790-8296.

According to a new survey by the American Stroke Association, only 1 percent of Americans are concerned about stroke.

Yet stroke is the No. 3 killer in America behind heart disease and cancer, and the leading cause of severe, long-term disability. Every 53 seconds someone in this country suffers from a stroke, and every 3.1 minutes someone dies of one.

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The American Stroke Association recommends that people call 9-1-1 in response to stroke since stroke is a medical emergency. Medication can help reduce long-term disability from the most common form of stroke, but it must be administered within three hours from the onset of stroke symptoms. Every minute counts. But most patients wait 22 hours on average to get medical assistance.

A stroke is a blockage of blood flow to the brain caused by either a clogged or ruptured blood vessel. There are two types of stroke, ischemic and hemorrhagic.

Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot forms and blocks blood flow to the brain. This is the most common type of stroke; approximately 80 percent of all strokes. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when an artery in the brain bursts, filling the area with blood and damaging surrounding tissue.

The warning signs:

l Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body

l Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding

l Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

l Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

l Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

Cardiac arrest, resulting from blockage of blood to the heart, strikes immediately and without warning. If it occurs, call 9-1-1 and begin CPR immediately. The signs of cardiac arrest are:

l Sudden loss of responsiveness. No response to gentle shaking.

l No normal breathing. The victim does not take a normal breath when you check for several seconds.

l No signs of circulation. No movement or coughing.

Risk factors

African Americans and women are considered high-risk groups for stroke. These individuals are also at an elevated risk of stroke:

l People who are age 55 and older

l Individuals with a family history of stroke or heart disease

l Those who have experienced a previous stroke

l People with high blood pressure

l Those with an increased red blood cell count

l Heart disease and/or vascular disease sufferers

l Diabetics

l Smokers

Work with your doctor to control blood pressure and cholesterol, become physically active and develop heart-healthy eating habits plus quit smoking and limit your alcohol intake.

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