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Rapid intervention limits stroke impacts

Rapid intervention limits devastating impacts of stroke

Sun Advocate community editor

A stroke is often referred to as a brain attack.

A stroke cuts off blood and oxygen to the brain cells that control everything the human body does, from speaking to walking to breathing.

Most strokes occur when a person's arteries are blocked by blood clots or by the build-up of plaque and other fatty deposits.

At times, the symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster.

The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when individuals nearby fail to act or recognize the symptoms.

When an individual is hit with the life-threatening blockage, every second counts. But recognizing the onset can be as simple as remembering the first three letters of the ailment, STR.

Several health institutions recommend::

•S - asking the person to smile.

•T - asking the individual to talk or speak a simple sentence.

•R - asking the person to raise both of his or her arms.

In the event the person has trouble with completing any of the tasks, health care providers recommend that residents call emergency personnel immediately and describe the individual's symptoms to the public safety dispatcher.

Additionally, individuals who cannot stick their tongue out straight after even the most mild physical event may have had a stroke.

If the individual thinks they are sticking their tongue straight out and it goes to one side or the other emergency personnel should also be called as soon as possible.

While early detection and fast action can mitigate the damage a stroke can cause there are several life long factors that can make the probability of having a stoke much less threatening.

Some strokes are caused when weak spots on the blood vessel wall break and rupture arteries.

Brain tissue needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients to function correctly, point out state and national health care experts.

When the tissue is cut off from oxygen during a stroke, the tissue begins to die, according to, a Utah heart disease and stroke prevention website.

Every year, stroke strikes approximately 750,000 Americans, killing 160,000 victims and forever changing the lives of many of the patients who survive.

"For people over 55, the risk of a stroke is greater than one in six. A stroke can cause permanent disability and even death. In fact, it is the third-leading cause of death in America and the number one cause of disability," warns the site.

The good news, according to heart highway, is that many strokes can be prevented.

"If you do have a stroke, new treatments may help stop brain damage and disability (if administered within three hours of the first sign of a stroke)," states the web page. "Once you recognize the signs you should call 911 immediately."

Additional symptoms of a stroke include:

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

•Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.

•Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.

•Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

•Sudden confusion or trouble speaking.

If Carbon County residents learn the symptoms and recognize the warning sign, the information could save their lives or the life of another person, emphasized the health information site.

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control, it is important to increase all individual state's capacity by planning, implementing, tracking and sustaining population-based interventions that address heart disease, stroke and related risk factors.

The related risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tobacco use, physical inactivity and poor nutrition.

Officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control hope to go state by state and institute surveillance of heart disease and stroke related risk factors and assess policy and environmental support for heart disease and stroke prevention.

To identify promising strategies for promoting heart healthy interventions in states and to promote cardiovascular health in a variety of settings (health care, work site and community areas) through education, policy and environmental changes.

For instance, the CDC hopes to sponsor public awareness campaigns to raise knowledge about signs and symptoms of heart disease and stroke and the importance of calling 911 when such symptoms appear.

Several programs are already in the works. In addition, Utah is currently listed among the basic implementation states.

However, more work is being done each year and the ongoing efforts will continue until everyone from small children to older adults has the full capabilities and education needed to deal with the onset of a stroke, concluded the health information website and U.S. Centers for Disease Control officials.

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