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Each year about 795,000 Americans have a stroke and every four minutes someone dies of stroke.  But strokes 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:   “The symptoms will depend on what area of the brain is involved.  In general the symptoms are weakness of one side of the body, droop of the face, vision trouble, speech trouble, trouble with thinking, trouble with talking, and numbness, tingling and in some cases, with balance trouble.”

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 are obese and who smoke cigarettes also are at higher risk for stroke.  Dr. Mueed explains the importance of seeking treatment for stroke quickly.

SOUND BITE: “At the first sign of stroke symptoms, the most important thing would be to reach to the nearest emergency room, and therefore, calling 911. In the acute stages stroke cannot be treated in an office setting or an outpatient setting, so people have to be in an emergency room where trained people can evaluate them and also if needed can transfer them to the nearest stroke center.”

Individuals should also work with their physicians to manage risk factors to prevent a stroke . . . including eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and making it a priority to stop smoking.

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