October 29 Is World Stroke Day

Saturday, October 29, has been designated World Stroke Day, an opportunity to raise awareness about how to prevent strokes -- which studies indicate occur more often among people with HIV and those with hepatitis C -- and how to recognize stroke symptoms to enable prompt treatment.alt

Strokes occur either due to blockage of blood flow to the brain, for example by a blood clot (ischemic stroke), or bleeding in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke). Both types can cause paralysis, loss of ability to speak, and other functional impairment.

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. and approximately 137,000 Americans die of stroke every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is estimated that 1 in 6 people worldwide will have a stroke during their lifetime, and someone dies from a stroke every 6 seconds.

Several studies have shown that HIV positive people are at higher risk for cardiovascular events including stroke, although it is not yet clear whether this is attributable to HIV infection itself, associated inflammation, antiretroviral drug side effects (such as elevated cholesterol), or traditional risk factors. Some evidence indicates that people with chronic hepatitis C -- and especially HIV/HCV coinfection -- are also at increased risk of stroke.

People with coronary artery disease or heart disease are more likely to have a stroke. Strokes can be prevented by managing cardiovascular risk in general. The CDC emphasizes the "ABCs" of stroke prevention, along with lifestyle changes such as healthy diet, regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and smoking cessation:

Brain damage can be minimized with rapid treatment using "clot-busting" drugs for ischemic strokes. Because prompt care is crucial, the World Stroke Campaign encourages everyone to learn the signs of "brain attacks," much as they do for heart attacks.

If these stroke symptoms occur, call for emergency medical assistance. Not all signs are apparent in every case. Some symptoms may be temporary, but still should not be ignored. Make note of when symptoms started.

Warning Signs of Stroke

The FAST Test

World Stroke Day is part of the Department of Health and Human Services Million Hearts campaign, a national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next 5 years.



World Stroke Campaign. Stroke Warning Signs. http://www.worldstrokecampaign.org/Facts/Pages/StrokeWarningSigns_all.aspx.

World Stroke Campaign. World Stroke Day 2011. http://www.worldstrokecampaign.org/2011/GET/Pages/World_Stroke_Day_2011.aspx.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). World Stroke Day 2011. http://www.cdc.gov/Features/worldstrokeday.