JEFFERSON CITY, Mo., April 26, 2018 – During American Stroke Month in May, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association encourage Missourians to lead healthier lives to reduce their risk of stroke and heart disease.
2018 marks two decades since the American Stroke Association was founded as a division of the American Heart Association. Since its formation, the stroke mortality rate in the U.S. has declined 40 percent. More information on the organization's history is available in its 20-year progress report.
Stroke is the No. 2 cause of death worldwide—No. 5 in the U.S. Despite being a leading cause of death and serious, long-term disability, stroke is largely preventable and treatable. In fact, as many as 80 percent of strokes are preventable.
Stroke Treatment (and New Guidelines)
- The faster you are treated for a stroke, the more likely you are to recover.
- Stroke patients who received the clot-busting drug alteplase (IV r-tPA) within 90 minutes of symptom onset are almost three times more likely to recover with little or no disability.
- 91 percent of stroke patients who were treated with a stent retriever within 2.5 hours of symptom onset recovered with little or no disability.
- A new guideline for treating acute ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, recommends an increased treatment window for mechanical clot removal from six hours to up to 24 hours in certain patients with clots in large vessels.
- New recommendations also provide patients with mild strokes access to clot-dissolving drugs, which have been proven to lower chances for disability.
Awareness and action are key when it comes to stroke treatment. The American Stroke Association teaches the acronym F.A.S.T. to help people recognize the most common stroke warning signs and what to do if one occurs:
- F – Face Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
- A – Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- S – Speech Difficulty: Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like, “The sky is blue”. Is the sentence repeated correctly?
- T – Time to call 911: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get them to the hospital immediately.
Most people who have a stroke have high blood pressure, so it's incredibly important to know your numbers and keep them under control to help prevent a stroke. High blood pressure often has no symptoms.
May is also National High Blood Pressure Education Month
During National High Blood Pressure Education Month, the AHA/ASA encourage people to check their blood pressure (#CheckIt) and give their lifestyle a checkup. People can learn measurement tips and what their numbers mean at heart.org/bplevels.
- High blood pressure is the No. 1 risk factor for stroke–and the most controllable.
- Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg.
- More than 100 million U.S. adults have high blood pressure–nearly half of all adults in the United States.
- One in six American adults with high blood pressure don't know it.
- 75 percent of people who have a first stroke, have blood pressure greater than 120/80 mm Hg.
- May 17 is World Hypertension Day.
- People are encouraged to join the month-long effort to log three million blood pressure checks.
New Blood Pressure Guidelines
- High blood pressure is now defined as readings of 130/80 mm Hg and higher. That is a change from 140/90 and higher, reflecting complications that can occur at lower numbers.
- In the first update to comprehensive U.S. guidelines on blood pressure detection and treatment since 2003, the category of prehypertension is eliminated.
- While about 14 percent more people will be diagnosed with high blood pressure and counseled about lifestyle changes, there will only be a small increase in those who will be prescribed medication.
- By lowering the definition of high blood pressure, the guidelines recommend earlier intervention to prevent further increases in blood pressure and the complications of hypertension.
Common Blood Pressure Reading Mistakes
Crossing your legs or even talking can have a significant impact on your blood pressure reading according to the American Heart Association, which identifies seven common errors that can lead to inaccurate blood pressure readings:
- Having a full bladder – This can add 10-15 points to your reading. You should always empty your bladder before measuring blood pressure.
- Slouching, unsupported back/feet – Poor support when sitting can increase your reading by 6-10 points. Make sure you're in a chair with your back supported and feet flat on the floor or a footstool.
- Unsupported arm – If your arm is hanging by your side or you have to hold it up during a reading, you may see numbers up to 10 points higher than they should be. Position your arm on a chair or counter, so that the measurement cuff is level with your heart.
- Wrapping the cuff over clothing – This common error can add 5-50 points to your reading. Instead, be sure the cuff is placed on a bare arm.
- When the cuff is too small – Your pressure may read 2-10 points higher. Ensure a proper fit. Your healthcare provider can help you with this.
- Sitting with crossed legs – While polite, it could increase a blood pressure reading 2-8 points. It's best to uncross your legs as well as ensure your feet are supported.
- Talking – Answering questions, talking on the phone, etc. can add 10 points. Stay still and silent to ensure an accurate measurement.
The Missouri American Heart Association staff created a playful video reminding people of these seven common mistakes.
Teaching Children About Stroke
The Hip Hop Stroke program uses hip hop to teach middle school students and their parents stroke symptoms and the importance of calling 911. Hip Hop Stroke focuses on economically disadvantaged minorities, especially African-Americans, because they are more impacted by stroke than any other racial group in the United States. The program features performances by '80s/'90s hip hop artist, Doug E. Fresh.
For more information about American Stroke Month, the public is encouraged to follow/post with #StrokeMonth, #NoMOStrokes and #CheckIt on social media, and visit strokeassociation.org/strokemonth.
About the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association
The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association are devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke—the two leading causes of death in the world. The organizations team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat heart disease and stroke. Visit heart.org for more information.
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SOURCE American Heart Association
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