May is National Stroke Awareness Month (NSAM), and since Migraine disease increases stroke risk, it's a health observance we Migraineurs should note.
One of the problems we with Migraines face is that we often have symptoms that could be either stroke or Migraine. If these are symptoms we have on a regular basis, we've probably already talked with our doctors and know they're Migraine symptoms for us. If we experience them for the first time, or they seem strange and frightening for some reason, we need to call our doctors to be safe. NSAM is a good time for us to review the symptoms of stroke to be sure we're familiar with them as well a what to do in case of stroke.
Here are some facts about stroke from the National Stroke Association:
- Stroke is an emergency and a brain attack, cutting off vital blood flow and oxygen to the brain.
- In the United States, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death, killing over 133,000 people each year, and a leading cause of serious, long-term adult disability.
- There are an estimated 7,000,000 stroke survivors in the U.S. over age 20.
- Approximately 795,000 strokes will occur this year, one occurring every 40 seconds, and taking a life approximately every four minutes.
- Stroke can happen to anyone at any time, regardless of race, sex or age.
- Types of Stroke:
- Ischemic stroke occurs when arteries are blocked by blood clots or by the gradual build-up of plaque and other fatty deposits. About 87 percent of all strokes are ischemic.
- Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain breaks leaking blood into the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes account for thirteen percent of all strokes, yet are responsible for more than thirty percent of all stroke deaths.
- Two million brain cells die every minute during stroke, increasing risk of permanent brain damage, disability or death. Recognizing symptoms and acting FAST to get medical attention can save a life and limit disabilities.
- The prevalence of transient ischemic attacks (TIA – “mini strokes”) increases with age. Up to 40 percent of all people who suffer a TIA will go on to experience a stroke.
- Women are twice as likely to die from stroke than breast cancer annually.
- The estimated direct and indirect cost of stroke in the United States in 2010 is $73.7 billion.
During National Stroke Awareness Month, the National Stroke Association urges everyone to share the warning signs and act FAST when stroke hits. They've simplified things to a simple "formula" for us:
Remember, when it comes to Migraine increasing our risk of stroke, the increased risk isn't reason for panic. It is, however, good reason to talk with our doctors about our own risk factors, which of them can be reduced, and what we can do to reduce them. National Stroke Awareness Month is a perfect time to make an appointment with our doctors to have that discussion, if we haven't already.
More information on Migraine and stroke risk: