‘Not just a disease of the aging:’ Official warns of stroke risks

Local News

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – May is Stroke Awareness Month. 

Every year, about 800,000 people across America suffer a stroke. 

Health professionals want people to know the warning signs and when they should act. 

Strokes occur in the brain in one of two ways — either by a blockage in a blood vessel or a rupture of a blood vessel. Either way, that denies the brain of needed blood and oxygen. 

While the average age of a stroke victim is 69, anyone can have one.

“We see patients far younger than that, in their 30s, 40s, 50s, so it is not just a disease of the aging,” said Erika Mikula, Stroke Center coordinator at Mercy Health. 

Mikula said everyone should know the warning signs and be prepared to act. 

Doctors say to use the phrase “Be Fast” to tell if someone may be having a stroke: 

Balance: Is there a sudden loss of balance or coordination?
Eyes – Is there suddenly blurred or double vision? 
Face – Ask the person to smile. Is one side of his or her face drooping?
Arms – Can the person raise both arms? Does one side drift downward? Is one side numb?
Speech – Does the person have slurred or garbled speech?
Time to call 911 – If you notice one or more of these signs, it’s time to call 911.

“Time is brain. You are losing roughly about two million neurons every minute during a stroke,” Mikula said. 

Stroke treatment has improved a lot over the years, meaning having a stroke is not a death sentence anymore.  

Still, it’s important to prevent strokes if you can. 

“There are modifiable risk factors, such as blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, certain conditions like atrial fibrillation,” Mikula said. “Even though you have those risk factors, it’s, are we controlling them?” 

The goal is to reduce the risk of stroke and improve outcomes for people who have had them. 

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