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Appalachia Health News tells the story of our health challenges and how we overcome them throughout the region. 

Stroke Awareness Month: Recognize The Symptoms

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and health experts say quick action can prevent some of the worst outcomes of stroke.

A stroke can cause debilitating effects, and even death, when the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen. Every minute someone goes without medical attention can make things worse.

Recognizing the onset of a stroke and dialing 911 can save lives, said Clinton Wright, who leads the Division of Clinical Research at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

“We just want people to recognize the symptoms and know that they should call 911, and not wait,” Wright said. “People think ‘I'm just gonna see if these symptoms go away,’ and then they’ve missed the window of opportunity to get those critical treatments.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Education campaigns include what symptoms to look out for in yourself and others.

“The symptoms of stroke are usually sudden. And they're things like numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially if it happens on one side of the body,” Wright said.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Almost 800,000 people have strokes each year in the U.S., but those who are older or have high blood pressure are at greater risk. So are Black people, who are nearly twice as likely as whites to have a stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Southern and Appalachian people are at greater risk of stroke due the prevalence of smoking and poor diets. However, West Virginia has one of the lowest stroke mortality rates in the nation.

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting with support from Charleston Area Medical Center and Marshall Health.

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