TRENTON–During National Stroke Awareness Month, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS) is highlighting the devastating health effects of the condition to encourage residents to be alert for signs of stroke and educate themselves about risk factors.
“A stroke can happen to anyone at anytime regardless of race, sex or age,” said Mary O’Dowd, Acting Commissioner NJDHSS. “The best way to prevent a stroke is to maintain a healthy weight, avoid smoking, keep the drinking of alcohol to a minimum and keep your blood pressure under control. By making good health decisions you help protect yourself against a possible stroke.”
A stroke is caused when a blood clot blocks the blood supply to part of the brain or when a blood vessel in or around the brain bursts. In either case, parts of the brain become damaged or die. If the supply of blood or oxygen is not quickly restored permanent brain damage or death can occur.
Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States killing over 133,000 people each year and costing an estimated $73.7 billion in 2010 in direct and indirect costs. Over 795,000 strokes occur each year. In New Jersey, in 2009, 23,575 people were hospitalized and 2,427 people died from strokes.
New Jersey is a national leader when it comes to treating stroke patients. NJDHSS designates licensed general hospitals that meet certain medical standards of care as either a Primary Stroke Center or a Comprehensive Stroke Center. To date, New Jersey has 49 primary stroke center hospitals and 12 comprehensive hospitals that have met the state’s criteria for inclusion into these categories. The criteria for being designated a primary and comprehensive hospital can be viewed here.
Many times family members are the first people to recognize that something is wrong with a relative or loved one and speed of diagnoses is critical to limiting the damage that a stroke may cause. Should you notice a family member, or any person with the following symptoms, please dial 9-1-1 immediately:
- 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,
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
People may also use the “FAST” test to recognize if a person may be suffering from a 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.
For more information about strokes, visit:
· NJDHSS stroke homepage –http://www.state.nj.us/health/healthcarequality/stroke/index.shtml
· The National Stroke Association – http://www.stroke.org/site/PageNavigator/HOME
· Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stroke webpage – http://www.cdc.gov/stroke/
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