Each year, nearly 800,000 people in the U.S. experience a new or recurrent stroke, according to the American Stroke Association. While your risk for stroke increases as you age, recent research shows an uptick in the number of strokes among younger people between the ages of 35 to 44. The reason? Research points to the rise in conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, which are some of the leading risks factors for stroke.
There are other causes of stroke in younger patients — genetic mutations or structural abnormalities of the vessels — however, an unhealthy lifestyle is a primary culprit. The takeaway: it’s never too soon to focus on stroke prevention. A healthy diet and exercise play a critical role in preventing cardiovascular disease as well as stroke.
When it comes to stroke diagnosis and treatment, timing is everything. Stroke interrupts blood flow to the brain and deprives it of oxygen, resulting in the loss of around two million neurons per minute, according to UVA Health System vascular neurologist Nicole Chiota-McCollum, MD. So the sooner you receive treatment, the less damage will be done to the brain and the higher the chances you’ll have a complete recovery.
This is why it’s important to be able to recognize the signs of stroke and know how to respond. A key word to remember is FAST:
F is for Face Drooping
A is for Arm Weakness
S is for Speech Difficulty; and
T is Time to Call 911
By educating yourself on these common signs, you can help ensure that you or your loved one gets the right treatment at the right time.
To learn more about stroke and to determine if you are at risk, go to uvahealth.com, where you’ll find our stroke risk assessment tool. This will help you estimate your risk of having a stroke and provide resources for managing your personal risk factors.