(BPT) - Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and also a leading cause of disability in the United States. Approximately 800,000 people in the U.S. have a stroke every year[i] with nearly 1 in 4 being recurrent strokes.[ii] World Stroke Day is observed on October 29th to raise awareness of stroke risks and treatment and to ensure survivors and caregivers are equipped with the knowledge to prevent another stroke. As a national sponsor of Together to End Stroke®, Bayer® Aspirin is joining the American Stroke Association to spread the word that stroke can be largely preventable and treatable.
Recent findings from a survey conducted by the American Stroke Association® (ASA) among survivors of ischemic (clot-related) strokes and transient ischemic attacks (TIA), their caregivers, and healthcare professionals underscore the critical need to empower these individuals with more education. While knowledge of stroke warning signs and risk factors are fairly high, only eight percent of survivors and caregivers surveyed believe that strokes can be prevented. In reality, up to 80% of recurrent clot-related (ischemic) strokes can be prevented with the right steps such as managing blood pressure and cholesterol, eating healthy, staying active, stopping smoking and a doctor-directed aspirin regimen.
Aspirin is not appropriate for everyone, so be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen.
Healthcare professionals (HCPs) are also helping raise awareness, as 84% of those surveyed are talking to their patients about the signs, risks and prevention of secondary stroke. HCPs believe that patients struggle to comply with secondary stroke prevention plans because they don’t understand the importance, lack motivation, or don’t observe changes quickly enough. They cite that survivors find it most difficult to quit smoking (37%), exercise regularly (29%) and manage their weight (26%).
While most survivors and caregivers believe lifestyle changes are an important part of stroke recovery, many find it difficult to exercise regularly and manage their weight. The most common change survivors make is taking recommended medication (83%) and taking aspirin daily (63%). 58% view high blood pressure as the most important risk factor for stroke and 65% say they consistently control blood pressure as part of their stroke recovery plan.
The survey also found that approximately half of the survivors and caregivers have heard of F.A.S.T., the acronym being used by the American Stroke Association to highlight the most common signs and symptoms of stroke, which are as follows:
- F- Face Drooping. Ask the person to smile. Does the face look uneven?
- A -Arm Weakness. Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift down or is it unable to move?
- S – Speech Difficulty. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does their speech sound strange? Strange speech could be slurred, the wrong words may come out, or the person is unable to speak.
- T- Time. Time to call 9-1-1
The survey revealed resources to motivate survivors and to make it easier to adopt lifestyle changes are crucial. In addition to support from their healthcare provider, caregivers also play a critical role in enabling survivors to adopt these practices. By arming stroke survivors, caregivers and family members with information on secondary stroke prevention, the American Stroke Association and Bayer® Aspirin can get closer to our goal of helping end stroke.
Visit StrokeAssociation.org for more information and resources about secondary stroke.