Stroke: Leading cause of disability in Illinois

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An Illinois public health official says a person of any age can have a stroke, which is the leading cause of disability in Illinois and the U.S.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Tuesday, October 29, 2013 was World Stroke Day. The theme of 2013, Because I Care, was aimed at emphasizing “that stroke is preventable and the benefits of prevention extend to all those who care.”

A stroke happens when a clot prevents the brain from getting blood supply or if a blood vessel bursts in the brain. The IDPH said that stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in Illinois. It is also responsible for 16-percent of all cardiovascular disease deaths in the state.

“Although most people who have a stroke are older, anyone, including children can have a stroke,” said IDPH Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. “While we cannot control some risk factors for preventing a stroke, like age, sex, ethnicity and family history, we can make health changes that can help lower the risk. Changes may include getting more exercise and eating a healthier diet.”

Having knowledge of personal risk factors, like high blood pressure, diabetes, or obesity, can help you reduce the likelihood of having a stroke because you can work with healthcare providers to help control or manage the conditions. Engaging in physical activity, eating healthy, limiting alcohol intake, and avoiding smoking can also help reduce your chance of having a stroke.

The IDPH recommends you know the signs of a stroke. Use the F.A.S.T. test to check for signs of stroke.

  • Face – ask the person to smile. Does one side of their face droop?
  • Arms – ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech – ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
  • Time – if you notice any of these signs, call 911.

Other stroke symptoms include numbness or weakness in the legs, sudden confusion or trouble understanding, vision troubles, difficulty walking or feeling dizzy, sudden severe headache.

For a list of symptoms, warning signs, and other information about stroke – click here.