Hinsdale – Each year stroke claims about 160,000 lives, making it the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind only heart disease and cancer. But there are things that people can do to minimize their risk.
In its continuing effort to help people recognize their risk for stroke, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital will host a free event from 1 to 3 p.m. March 19 at the Community House, 415 W. Eighth St. Dr. Scott Guth, an emergency room physician, and Dr. Christopher Simon, a neurologist, will discuss the signs and symptoms of stroke.
About 700,000 people suffer from a stroke each year, making it the most common cause of disability in the nation. “It is important people know what their risk factors are for stroke so they can take preventive measures,” Simon said.
There are two kinds of stroke. An ischemic stroke is caused by a blockage of blood flow. A hemorrhagic stroke is caused by bleeding into the brain or the space surrounding the brain. In both cases, stroke cuts off oxygen from the brain. The body sends five clues to warn of a stroke:
sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body,
sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding,
sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes,
sudden trouble walking; dizziness; loss of balance or coordination, and
sudden severe headache with no known cause.
“If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 or get to a hospital right away,” Guth said. “Three hours can mean the difference between life and death (or permanent disability) in treating stroke.”
Even waiting just a few minutes can have a disastrous effect, Simon added.
“The longer blood flow is cut off and the longer treatment is delayed,” he said, “the more likely it is that the patient will suffer permanent damage.”
There are four common and treatable risk factors for stroke: high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, heart disease and diabetes. Patients can decrease their chances of stroke by maintaining a proper weight, stopping smoking and by eating a healthy diet.
“Your risk for stroke can be decreased by simply following basic health guidelines,” Simon said.