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Each year about 700,000 Americans have a stroke and every three minutes someone dies of stroke.  But long-term disability from stroke can be prevented if treated promptly.

Stroke is our nation’s number three killer and a leading cause of long-term disability.  A stroke is damage to the brain, caused by either a blood clot or bleeding in the brain, says Dr. Sajjad Mueed, assistant professor of neurology at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.  He describes the symptoms of stroke:

SOUND BITE:  “. . . numbness, tingling or weakness on one side of the body on arm or neck or face, speech trouble, trouble understanding, being uncoordinated, being suddenly very dizzy, walking trouble, inability to see either in one eye or the other eye or both, sometimes double vision.  And these are all happen fairly suddenly . . .” 

Stroke is more common in elderly people, but younger people also can have strokes.  People who have risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol or heart disease are more likely to experience a stroke.  Individuals who smoke cigarettes also are at higher risk for stroke.  Dr. Mueed explains the best time for seeking treatment for stroke.

SOUND BITE:   “It’s generally three hours and some certain cases now we are going to 4½ hours to get them that special medicine which is called a clot-buster treatment.  And that should be given within three hours after the onset of symptoms.”

Anyone who develops symptoms of a stroke should call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room immediately.  Individuals also should work with their physicians to manage risk factors to help prevent a stroke, especially making it a priority to stop smoking.

This is Ruth Slottag at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.