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Marshall Medical Center Shares Information About Stroke

Marshall Medical Center wants people to be aware of the warning signs of stroke, the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Stroke claims more than 130,000 lives each year and is also one of the leading causes of disability. The American Stroke Association has estimated that a stroke occurs on an average of every 40 seconds. 

Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. A stroke can occur when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts, resulting in the affected part of the brain dying due to a lack of blood and oxygen. 

Indications of a stroke usually develop suddenly and include: 

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion or trouble speaking
  • Vision problems in one or both eyes
  • Loss of balance, trouble walking and dizziness
  • A severe headache that begins suddenly 

 “The effects of a stroke will vary according to where the problem occurs and how much area of the brain has been affected,” said Dr. Timothy Nash, a physician on the medical staff of Marshall Medical Center. “Call 911 immediately if you believe someone is showing signs of having a stroke. The long-term effects of a stroke can sometimes be minimized by the timely administering of a clot-busting medication as soon as possible after the symptoms start.” 

The chances of having a stroke increase with age and are more common among those with a family history of the disease and among African-Americans. Anyone with a prior history of stroke or heart attack is at increased risk. Hypertension - high blood pressure - is the leading cause of stroke and the most important controllable risk factor. 

“Stroke can often be prevented or treated,” said Dr. Nash. “You reduce your chance of stroke by not smoking, eating a healthy diet, regular exercise and keeping your cholesterol levels and blood pressure within a healthy range.” 

Normal blood pressure readings for most people will be at or below 120/80. Check with your health care provider who can help you assess your personal risk factors for stroke and what your blood pressure levels should be. More information about stroke may be found at www.strokeassociation.org.