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Stroke a leading cause of death in the United States
Warning signs, risks can be identified early
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ATLANTA — Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and a leading cause of serious long-term disability.

Strokes can occur at any age, but nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65. The risk of having a stroke more than doubles each decade after age 55, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The prevalence of strokes in 2005 for adults age 20 and older was estimated at 5.8 million. About 780,000 people in the United States experience a new or recurrent stroke each year. Of these, 600,000 are first time strokes, and 180,000 are recurrences in people who have already had one.

On average, every 40 seconds someone in America has a stroke, according to the American Heart Association’s Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2008 Update.

May is National Stroke Awareness Month and the Department of Human Resources, Division of Aging Services is urging everyone to learn the warning signs and risk factors.

According to health experts, the major symptoms of stroke occur suddenly, and usually there is more than one symptom happening at a time. Warning signs of stroke are sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding others; sudden trouble seeing out of one or both eyes, sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; and sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Some of the major risk factors of stroke are high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and tobacco use.

“To reduce the risk of a stroke, individuals should get familiar with the warning signs and practice healthy behaviors,” said Maria Greene, director of the Division of Aging Services.

By adopting healthy behaviors such as eating a healthy diet, being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and avoiding tobacco use, a person can prevent or control the effects of many chronic illnesses like strokes, diabetes and heart disease.

For more information on strokes, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site at http://www.
or the American Heart Association at For information on leading a healthy lifestyle, visit the Live Healthy Georgia Campaign Web site at or Live Healthy Georgia Seniors Taking Charge at  

For information on aging services in your local community, call the Division of Aging Services toll-free at 1-866-55-Aging (1-866-552-4464).