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A New CDC Initiative To Reduce Stroke Threat

November 14, 2011

According to the Centers for Disease Control, in the time it takes to read the headline on this story out loud—six seconds—someone in the world dies from a stroke. The CDC’s Million Hearts initiative has the goal of preventing a million heart attacks and strokes in five years, and the organization suggests Americans can take immediate action to reduce their risk for stroke.

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. About 137,000 Americans die of stroke every year, about equivalent to the total population of Eugene, OR or Savannah, GA.
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. You can greatly reduce your risk for stroke through lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medication. “Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds and while that is a statistic to some, it’s a life abruptly changed for the person who suffered the stroke and the person’s family,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH. “We can do so much more to prevent strokes and the new Million Hearts initiative offers opportunities for individuals, providers, communities and businesses to apply tools we have readily available today to reduce strokes and heart attacks.”

Know Your Risk Level
Anyone could have a stroke, but some populations are at higher risk than others. Compared to whites, African-Americans are at nearly twice the risk of having a first stroke. Hispanic Americans' risk falls between the two. Both African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely to die following a stroke than are whites.?

Know How To Reduce Your Risk
Among the actions available today to reduce stroke and heart attacks, Million Hearts seeks to improve clinical care by helping patients learn and follow their ABCS:
• Aspirin for people at risk
• Blood pressure control
• Cholesterol management
• Smoking cessation
Less than half of Americans who should be taking an aspirin a day are actually taking one, and less than half of the 68 million adults in the United States with high blood pressure, a stroke risk factor, have it under control. Only 1 in 3 Americans with high cholesterol is effectively treated, and less than a quarter of Americans who smoke get help to quit when they see their doctor.

Know The Sudden Symptoms Of Stroke
Stroke can cause death or significant disability, such as paralysis, speech difficulties and emotional problems. Some new treatments can reduce stroke damage if patients get medical care soon after symptoms begin. When a stroke happens, it is important to recognize the symptoms, call 9-1-1 right away and get to a hospital quickly.
The sudden onset of any of the following symptoms require immediate medical attention:
• Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
• Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
• Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
• Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

To learn more about how to prevent stroke, go to:

To learn more about Million Hearts and how to get involved, go to