Strokes more common than most realize

By Jeanie Hammer

I was talking with my sisters and brothers on Thanksgiving Day about what a huge problem stroke is and how it is not just affecting the elderly. This is something that I didn’t know 7 ½ years ago when I took my position as the Stroke Program Coordinator at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. ​​

blood pressure sized
Strokes can occur at any age, so I feel it is my duty to teach my siblings (and everyone else) the signs and symptoms of stroke and what to do if these symptoms occur. 

We have cared for stroke patients as young as 16 years old and as old as 103. All strokes are different depending on the person and part of the brain involved.  However, most strokes have a common cause or source, and present similarly. 

  • Each year about 800,000 strokes occur in the US, which accounts for 1 every 40 seconds
  • Stroke is the number one cause of severe disability and the fourth leading cause of death

What is a stroke? 

Strokes occur when blood flow to part of our brain suddenly stops. This is caused by a blockage in one of the blood vessels in the brain or bleeding in the brain. Our brain cells start to rapidly die because brain cells need the oxygen and nutrients carried by the blood.  

Because the brain controls the functions of our body, the effects of a stroke can be widespread. A stroke can change our ability to walk, talk, think, see and care for ourselves. Following a stroke, you may not be able to do the things you would normally do each day. 

I can’t express strongly enough to my siblings, parents, other loved ones and the community the importance of understanding strokes and stroke symptoms. Speaking of which, stay tuned for my next blog post, where I will discuss the signs and symptoms of stroke.

To learn more about strokes, visit http://www.strokeassociation.org/