May is National Stroke Month and Polk Medical Center is bringing awareness to important warning signs and treatment.

More than 800,000 strokes occur every year in the United States, and strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. Strokes are also a major cause of disability for adults.

Anyone can have a stroke, but almost 75 percent of strokes happen in people over 65. That is why strokes can lead to so many disabilities. The good news is most strokes can be prevented by living healthier, including eating better and exercising regularly.

Certain factors also raise your chances of having a stroke, including bad eating habits, smoking, consuming alcohol, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels and diabetes.

A stroke occurs when blood cannot flow to the brain as it should. A change in blood flow is caused when one of the following happens:

-A blood clot blocks one of the vital blood vessels in the brain, known as an ischemic stroke. Most strokes are ischemic strokes.

-A blood vessel in the brain bursts, spilling blood into surrounding tissues − called a hemorrhagic stroke.

You should also recognize the signs of a stroke by remembering the acronym B.E.F.A.S.T.

Balance – Is the person experiencing sudden loss of balance or coordination?

Eyes – Is the person having a sudden change in vision or trouble seeing?

Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven or lopsided?

Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.

Time to Call 9-1-1.

There are also other signs of stroke based on sudden changes that you might experience, including:

-Sudden numbness

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

-Sudden confusion

-Sudden trouble speaking or understanding speech

-Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

-Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, and

-Sudden severe headache with no obvious cause

Polk County residents should know that that Polk Medical Center is a Stroke-Ready Hospital, ready to provide quick, effective care when needed.

Being a Stroke-Ready Hospital gives our community the advantage of getting the clot-busting drug at their local hometown hospital rather than having to wait to be transferred to another hospital before it can be administered.

When it comes to limiting the effects of a stroke by saving brain cells, time is crucial. Receiving a clot-busting drug within three hours of symptom onset can make all the difference when looking at damage from a stroke.

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