redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
The role of caregivers in supporting those who have suffered a stroke, as well as myths and misconceptions surrounding the disease will be highlighted on Tuesday, October 29 as the global healthcare community marks World Stroke Day.
A stroke attacks someone, regardless of age or gender, every two seconds, the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) said in a statement Friday. Six million people die as a result of a stroke every year, and another nine million suffer from the condition, which occurs when a lack of oxygen suddenly kills brain cells.
Approximately 30 million people worldwide have experienced a stroke, and many of those have residual disabilities, the society added. Furthermore, a study published last week by the British medical journal The Lancet reported a 25 percent increase in the number of stroke cases among 20-to-64-year-olds worldwide. Furthermore, the percentage of people in this age group accounting for all stroke cases increased from 25 percent before 1990 to 31 percent currently.
The slogan for this year’s World Stroke Day – “Because I care…” – is the same as that featured in 2012. According to the World Stroke Organization, the phrase was selected because “it can easily be adapted to all cultures and in any setting… the slogan attempts to address prevailing misinformation about the disease, e.g., stroke only happens later in life.”
“Moreover, caregivers and the role of family and close friends – as those in the frontlines providing the supportive care – will play an essential role in the campaign,” the organization added. “The campaign will celebrate their important contributions. Care givers are the conduits between the stroke community and the general public in correcting misinformation as they know first-hand what the reality is around stroke.”
The American Stroke Association is using the occasion to try to educate the public about the warning signs of a person suffering from a stroke. The organization uses the acronym “F.A.S.T.” to describe what to look for: “Face Drooping, Arm Weakness, Speech Difficulty, Time To Call 911.” They will also be hosting a Google Hangout on Monday and an education event in Washington DC on Tuesday to mark the occasion.
The ESC is emphasizing the steps that young, obese women can take in order to reduce the risk that they will experience a stroke during their lifetimes. Research presented during ESC Congress 2013 demonstrated that young, overweight females who do not suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol or other metabolic disorders do not have an increased risk of stroke compared to normal weight women without metabolic disorders.
However, those who did suffer from metabolic disorders and were overweight or obese were 3.5 times more likely of having a stroke. As the authors of that study pointed out, obesity can increase the risk that a young woman will develop diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, which in turn increases the likelihood that they will suffer a stroke or heart attack. Those women can protect themselves from those conditions by losing weight, they said.
“Overall women get more strokes than men each year, mainly because stroke occurs more frequently at older ages and women generally live longer than men,” ESC spokesperson Professor Gregory Lip said in a statement. “Thus, approximately 55 000 more women than men have strokes each year. Awareness of important risk factors, such as atrial fibrillation (an irregularity of the heart rhythm) and high blood pressure, is crucial. Of note, women are twice more likely to die from a stroke than breast cancer each year.”
“Women are at the same risk of stroke as men, and the level of risk is completely steered by the underlying risk factor pattern they have. The majority of people who have a stroke are disabled for the rest of their lives and may be paralyzed or lose their ability to speak. The devastating consequences of this disease for patients and their loved ones make prevention even more important,” added ESC spokesperson Professor Joep Perk.