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Physicians provide tips, warning signs for National Stroke Awareness Month

May is known as National Stroke Awareness Month and according to the American Stroke Association, nearly 800,000 people have a stroke in the United States each year. (File Photo)

May is known as National Stroke Awareness Month and according to the American Stroke Association, nearly 800,000 people have a stroke in the United States each year.

However, the association says 80 percent of these strokes can be preventable.

A stroke is a disease that impacts the arteries that lead to and within the brain. According to the American Stroke Association, they are caused by either a clot not allowing the flow of blood to the brain, known as an ischemic stroke, or by a blood vessel rupturing and preventing blood flow to the brain, known as a hemorrhagic stroke.

Risk factors of strokes can include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Inactivity

According to Dr. Aiman Shokr at Neighbors Emergency Center in Amarillo, taking care of yourself can reduce your chances of having a stroke.

Shokr tells ABC 7 News to keep a healthy diet, exercise daily or at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes, get a good nights sleep, quit smoking or drinking and treat any underlying problems like high blood pressure or diabetes.

According to the American Stroke Association, strokes can have many effects on the body.

If a stroke occurs on the right side of the brain, it could produce:

  • Paralysis on the left side of the body
  • Vision problems
  • Quick, inquisitive behavioral style
  • Memory loss

If a stroke occurs on the left side of the brain, it could produce:

  • Paralysis on the right side of the body
  • Speech / language problems
  • Slow, cautious behavioral style
  • Memory loss

If you or someone that you know is experiencing a stroke, there are a few fast learning signs that can help make an initial diagnosis.

Shokr said the first warning sign deals with face drooping. He said to ask the patient to smile, and if both sides are not symmetrical, that is a symptom of a stroke.

The second warning sign is arm weakness. Shokr tells ABC 7 News that people can ask the patient to raise both arms out in front of them and if they are not able to for more than 10 seconds, that might be an indicator of a stroke. He said you can ask patients to do the same for both legs, and if they cannot hold one leg up at a time for more than 10 seconds, they may be having a stroke.

The third warning sign is speech difficulty and if the patient is slurring their words.

Physicians tell ABC 7 News that if any patient is experiencing these warning signs, it is crucial to bring them to the hospital immediately.

"From the time [the patient] has a stroke, there is a possibility that we can use thrombolytic [medication] to dissolve that stroke, and that minimizes the amount of damage that happened, versus if [the patient] presents that later on," Shokr said. "It's very crucial for the patients to be seeking medical help as soon as possible, if anybody is expected to have a stroke."


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