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20 Arkansans Suffer from Stroke Each Day
Little Rock, Ark. – In 2016, Arkansas had the fourth highest acute stroke death rate in the United States. About 20 people suffer from stroke each day in the state.
Approximately 80 million people living around the world today have had a stroke, and someone has a stroke every 40 seconds in the United States. In recognition of World Stroke Day (Oct. 29), the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) urges those who care for others to learn the stroke warning signs, since bystanders often need to act fast in an emergency.
Remembering the B.E.F.A.S.T. acronym is a way to recognize stroke and what to do when it is suspected:
B – Balance: Is there a sudden loss of balance or coordination?
E – Eyes: Is there a sudden change in vision or trouble seeing?
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
T – Time to call 9-1-1: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go
away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.
Other than a prior stroke, major stroke risk factors include:
- High blood pressure – It’s the most important controllable risk factor for stroke. About 77 percent of people who have a first stroke have blood pressure higher than 140/90 mm Hg. An estimated 93 million Americans have hypertension.
- Transient ischemic attack – About 15 percent of strokes are preceded by a TIA (or “ministroke”).
- Atrial fibrillation (Afib) – It increases stroke risk up to five times and affects more than 2.7 million Americans.
- Smoking – Current smokers have two to four times the stroke risk of nonsmokers or those who quit more than 10 years ago.
If any of these risk factors are present, it is important to follow up with a primary care physician on a yearly basis.
“Stroke is the leading cause of disability and long term care admission among working adults 65 years of age and younger in Arkansas,” said Appathurai Balamurugan, MD, DrPH, State Chronic Disease Director and Medical Director for the ADH Chronic Disease Branch. “It’s important for people to know the warning signs and seek help immediately. Many strokes are preventable with lifestyle modification such as smoking cessation, low salt diet, eating more fruits and vegetables, regular exercise, and good blood pressure control, and the Department of Health is here as a resource for people who are wanting to make lifestyle changes.”
Arkansas is working to make strides in the treatment of acute stroke, through the AR SAVES telestroke system, Mercy telestroke, and the Arkansas Stroke Ready Hospital (ArSRH) designation program. Know the warning signs and take Action. Remember BE FAST!
Visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov for more information on stroke prevention in Arkansas and information on health habits that can lower your risk for stroke.