ALBANY — Stroke is the No. 5 killer of all Americans, and the leading cause of disability. May is American Stroke Month, and the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, and Albany Med Health System, are urging Capital District residents to take steps to prevent stroke, and know the signs of a stroke should it occur.
“Stroke statistics overall have improved, with stroke going from being the No. 3 killer of all Americans to No. 5,” said Alan Boulos, M.D., Dean of Albany Medical College, Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at Albany Med, and president of the Capital Region Board of Directors of the American Heart Association. “But we must continue to remind people of ways to prevent stroke, and the signs and symptoms so that people can act quickly if they witness or have a stroke.”
Preliminary new research presented at the American Heart Association’s Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions in Reston, Va., this week shows that stroke hospitalizations for younger adults – along with the cardiovascular risk factors associated with them – have risen since 2007. But the chances of people under age 45 dying from a stroke in the hospital have dropped.
Traditional stroke risk factors and related medical conditions also rose significantly over the decade. Obesity more than doubled, from 8.6 percent to 18.5 percent. The presence of high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, smoking and depression also rose, as did related illnesses such as heart failure and irregular heart rhythms.
The study did not look at why hospitalizations declined.
“If a stroke patient gets to the hospital quickly, the advances in treatment mean that the outcome can be much better, “Dr. Boulos said. “Time is brain, which is why it’s so important for people to recognize the symptoms of a stroke and get to the hospital immediately.”
The acronym “BE FAST” can help people to recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke:
B – Balance – Issues with balance
E – Eyes – Difficulty with vision
F – Face Drooping
A – Arm Weakness
S – Slurred Speech
T – Time to Call 911
“With proper nutrition and lifestyle changes, many strokes can be prevented,” said Dr. Boulos. ”We recommend that people keep their blood pressure under 120/80; that they eat lean protein, fruits and vegetables; quit smoking; and get 150 minutes per week of exercise. That’s about 20 minutes a day, and it’s OK to break that up into even smaller increments.”
For information about stroke, visit www.stroke.org.
The American Heart Association and Albany Med Health Systems are working together on a Live Fierce collaboration. Live Fierce will drive equitable health impact in the Capital District through community campaigns and messaging designed to fight heart disease and stroke.
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. The assocation teams with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke.
To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org or call any of our offices around the country.
Albany Med, northeastern New York’s only academic health sciences center, is one of the largest private employers in the Capital District. It incorporates the 766-bed Albany Medical Center Hospital, which offers the widest range of medical and surgical services in the region, and Albany Medical College, which trains the next generation of doctors, scientists, and other healthcare professionals. It also includes the region’s largest physicians’ practice with 500 doctors. Albany Med works with dozens of community partners to improve the region’s health and quality of life.
Albany Med is a member of the Albany Med Health System, which also includes Columbia Memorial Health, Glens Falls Hospital, Saratoga Hospital, and the VNA of Albany. The region’s largest locally governed health system, it has 1,520 beds, more than 800 physicians and 125 outpatient locations throughout the Capital District.