IRMC Stroke

If there’s one thing people of different nationalities, cultures and backgrounds have in common, it’s health. And although cultural and familial aspects such as diet and fitness certainly play a role in health and wellness — for better or for worse — disease and illness do not discriminate.

When many people think of worldwide killers, they probably think of conditions like heart disease, AIDS or cancer – all of which are serious health conditions. But stroke kills more than 6 million people in the world every year. It is the second leading cause of death globally among people over 60 years old, causing more deaths than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the United Sates. In 2014, stroke killed more than 133,000 people, accounting for about one of every 20 deaths in the United States.

According to the American Heart Association, about 795,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke each year. About 610,000 of these cases are first attacks, and 185,000 are recurrent attacks. Four million Americans who have survived a stroke are living with impairments and 15 percent to 30 percent are permanently disabled.

Often called the “silent killer,” stroke can strike without warning and is painless the majority of the time. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off (ischemic) or when a blood vessel bursts (hemorrhagic). Without oxygen, brain cells begin to die. Death or permanent disability can result. High blood pressure, smoking and having had a previous stroke or heart attack increase a person’s chances of having a stroke.

The majority of ischemic strokes, which account for 80 percent of all strokes, do not hurt. That’s why understanding stroke symptoms is so important. With timely treatment, the risk of death and disability from stroke can be lowered.

This article was originally published in Community Health magazine for Indiana Regional Medical Center.

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