World Stroke Day: We Can Prevent Stroke
Learn your risk for stoke and take action to prevent stroke or get treatment quickly if you have a stroke.
In the United States, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death.1 Worldwide, it is the second leading cause of death. Globally, stroke takes the lives of more than 6.5 million people each year, and permanently disables another 5 million.2 This October 29 is World Stroke Day, a chance to raise awareness about the impact stroke has around the world and how to avoid stroke. This year's campaign is "Face the Facts: Stroke is Treatable."
Fact: Stroke is a global killer.
Around the world, more people die of stroke each year than of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. Many stroke survivors are often left with serious physical and mental disabilities, including memory loss, difficulty with movement, and trouble with emotions.
Fact: Knowing the signs of stroke can save the life of you or someone else.
The faster you can recognize stroke symptoms and get treatment, the better your chances for recovery. Take time now to learn the symptoms of stroke.
Watch for these warning signs of stroke:3
- Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech.
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination.
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
If you notice yourself or another person experiencing any of the signs of stroke, act F.A.S.T. to get lifesaving medical treatment (see sidebar on F.A.S.T).
Fact: Stroke is a medical emergency.
The stroke treatments that work best are only available if you get medical help within a few hours of noticing symptoms. If you think you are having a stroke, don't wait to see if your symptoms go away and don't try to drive yourself to the hospital. Call 9-1-1 for an ambulance right away.
A stroke, sometimes called a brain attack, occurs when a clot blocks the blood supply to the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. Doctors who treat stroke can give you a medicine that dissolves blood clots. Doctors can also now use a device that threads inside a blocked vessel and removes the clot directly. Either treatment can make you much more likely to have a good recovery from stroke.4,5
Stroke patients may need physical rehabilitation to help retrain their brains and limbs to work together. Rehabilitation therapy can begin as soon as one day after having a stroke.
Fact: You can prevent stroke with lifestyle changes and medicine.
Stroke doesn't have to happen. You can take steps to control your risk by making simple changes in your lifestyle:
- Check your blood pressure. High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke.6 About one in three U.S. adults (75 million people) have high blood pressure,7 and many do not know it. You can check your blood pressure at a pharmacy or your doctor's office. If you learn you have high blood pressure, take steps to control it.
- Stop smoking. Smoking raises blood pressure and makes blood more likely to clot, causing a stroke. Learn more about programs to help you quit smoking.
- Get moving. Staying physically active keeps your blood vessels healthy and cuts your stroke risk.
- Eat healthy foods. Choose fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Look for foods that are lower in sodium (salt), which increases your blood pressure, and beverages without added sugars. Learn more about good nutrition choices in the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
- Lose weight. Being overweight or obese forces your heart to work harder and increases your risk for stroke. More than a third of Americans older than 20 are obese.8 Talk to your doctor about making healthy changes to help you lose weight.
Stroke affects more and more people around the world each year.9 World Stroke Day calls attention to the fact that stroke is treatable. With better awareness of stroke, we can all be empowered to prevent stroke and push for improved stroke care.
What CDC Is Doing
CDC supports several public health efforts that address stroke, including:
- Global HEARTS Initiative. The Global HEARTS Initiative provides tools and resources to health care professionals around the world to improve cardiovascular preventive care and lower the global burden of heart disease and stroke. By sharing these evidence-based practices, CDC aims to help its partners improve cardiovascular care worldwide.
- Million Hearts®. Million Hearts® is a national initiative with a goal to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes. CDC and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services co-lead the initiative on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Million Hearts® site has resources for both clinicians and patients on steps to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Program. CDC currently provides funding and support to nine states to collect data on patients experiencing an acute stroke, to help analyze these data, and to use those results to guide quality improvement interventions for acute stroke care.
- State Public Health Action Program. CDC provides funding to all 50 states and the District of Columbia to focus on strategies to prevent, control, and reduce the risk for chronic diseases such as stroke.
- National Vital Statistics Report. Deaths: Final Data for 2014[4.37 MB]. Released June 30, 2016.
- World Stroke Campaign. (2016). Face the Facts: Stroke is Treatable.
- CDC. (2015). Stroke Signs and Symptoms.
- J.L. Saver et al . (2015). Stent-retriever thrombectomy after intravenous t-PA vs. t-PA alone in stroke. New England Journal of Medicine. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1415061.
- T.G. Jovin et al. (2015). Thrombectomy within 8 hours after symptom onset in ischemic stroke. New England Journal of Medicine. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1503780.
- American Heart Association. (2015). Stroke and High Blood Pressure.
- Mozaffarian, D, Benjamin, EJ, Go, AS, Arnett, DK, Blaha, MJ, Cushman, M, et al. (2015). Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2016 Update. A Report From the American Heart Association. Circulation; 133: e38-e360.
- Prevalence of Obesity Among Adults and Youth: United States, 2011–2014. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2015).
- Feigin, V.L., Norrving, B., George, M.G., Foltz, J.L., Roth, G.A., Mensah, G.A. (2016). Prevention of stroke: A strategic global imperative[632 KB]. Nature Reviews Neurology. Published online 22 Jul 2016. doi:10.1038/nrneurol.2016.107