National Stroke Awareness Month is held in May every year. On May 11, 1989, President George H. W. Bush signed Presidential Proclamation 5975 designating May as National Stroke Awareness Month. Since then, the National Stroke Association has been celebrating this special time of the year to increase public awareness of stroke.(1) The National Stroke Association wishes to educate the public through campaigns such as the Faces of Stroke and by designing easy-to-use tools and resources that inititiate individuals and groups to raise awareness on a local level.
A stroke occurs when one of the arteries to the brain is either blocked or bursts.(2) As a result, part of the brain does not get the blood it needs, so it starts to die. A transient ischemic attack (TIA) occurs when the blood supply to the brain is blocked for a short time. There are two types of TIAs, an Embolic Stroke or a Thrombotic Stroke. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts and spills blood into or around the brain. High blood pressure and aneurysms can make blood vessels weak enough to burst.(2)
There are different types of hemorrhagic stroke, including intracerebral hemorrhage and subarachnoid hemorrhage.(2) An aneurysm is a type of subarachnoid hemorrhage, and is a weak spot on the wall of an artery that bulges out into a thin bubble. As it gets bigger, the wall may weaken and burst. If it bursts, blood leaks inside or around the brain.
Signs of stroke include: sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance; and/or sudden severe headache with no known cause. Make a note of the time when any symptoms first appear. If given within three hours of the first symptom, there is an FDA-approved clot-buster medication that may reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke.
If you have any of these symptoms or see someone else having them, call 9-1-1 immediately! Act F.A.S.T. Fast treatment at the hospital can have better results.