May, 2011 – In honor of Stroke Awareness Month and my son’s teacher’s Dad


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In honor of Stroke Awareness Month and my son’s teacher’s Dad

By Vanessa Vizcaino, M.D.



With every second, the average large-vessel acute ischemic stroke patient loses 32,000 brain cells?

Stroke 101 Fact Sheet

• Stroke is an emergency and a brain attack, cutting off vital blood flow and oxygen to the brain.

• In the United States, stroke is a leading cause of death, killing over 133,000 people each year, and a leading cause of serious, long-term adult disability.

• There are an estimated 7,000,000 stroke survivors in the U.S. over age 20.

• Approximately 795,000 strokes will occur this year, one occurring every 40 seconds, and taking a life approximately every four minutes.

• Stroke can happen to anyone at any time, regardless of race, sex or age.


• Ischemic stroke occurs when arteries are blocked by blood clots or by the gradual build-up of plaque and other fatty deposits. About 87 percent of all strokes are ischemic.

• Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain breaks leaking blood into the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes account for thirteen percent of all strokes, yet are responsible for more than thirty percent of all stroke deaths.

• Two million brain cells die every minute during stroke, increasing risk of permanent brain damage, disability or death. Recognizing symptoms and acting FAST to get medical attention can save a life and limit disabilities.

• The prevalence of transient ischemic attacks (TIA – “mini strokes”) increases with age. Up to 40 percent of all people who suffer a TIA will go on to experience a stroke.

Stroke is an Emergency!!!   Act FAST and Call 9-1-1.

Few in the U.S. know the warning signs of stroke. Learning them – and acting FAST when they occur – could save your life or the life of a loved one.

Use the FAST test to remember warning signs of stroke.

F = FACE Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A = ARMS Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S = SPEECH Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?

T = TIME If you observe any of these signs (independently or together), call 9-1-1 immediately.

Reducing Stroke Risk:  Many risk factors are beyond your control, including being over age 55, being a male, being African-American, having diabetes, and having a family history of stroke. If you have one or more of these risk factors, it is even more important that you learn about the lifestyle and medical changes you can make to prevent a stroke. However, everyone should do what they can to reduce their risk for stroke – learn more by reading and following the Stroke Prevention Guidelines below.

Medical stroke risk factors include: Previous stroke, previous episode of TIA (or mini stroke), high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, atrial fibrillation and carotid artery disease. These risk factors can be controlled and managed with the help of a healthcare professional.

Lifestyle stroke risk factors include:  Smoking, being overweight and drinking too much alcohol. You can control these risk factors by quitting smoking, exercising regularly, watching what and how much you eat and limiting alcohol consumption.

Stroke Prevention Guidelines

1. Know blood pressure (hypertension) and keep it in check.

2. Identify atrial fibrillation (Afib). If you feel an irregular heart rate, go see your medical provider.

3. Stop smoking! Smoking doubles the risk of stroke.

4. Control alcohol use.

5. Know cholesterol levels. See a doctor if your total cholesterol level is more than 200.

6. Control diabetes.

7. Manage exercise and diet. Excess weight strains the circulatory system. Exercise five times a week. Maintain a diet low in calories, salt, saturated and trans fats and cholesterol. Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

8. Treat circulation problems.

9. Act FAST at the first warning sign of stroke. If you have any stroke symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

If you have any questions or want to be screened for risk factors, please contact us at Family Medical and Wellness Center, (561) 721-1953.

Vanessa Vizcaino, MD