It’s the fourth leading cause of death nationwide every year. Although there are fewer people dying annually from stroke, it remains a leading cause of long-term disability in America. May is Stroke Awareness Month and as our Elyse Mickalonis tells us, health officials say it’s important to learn the symptoms and know what to do.
UNITED STATES -- Brenda Testani-Nedbalski never thought it would happen to her, but it did.
"Eighteen years ago, I suffered a stroke and I was 36-years-old,” said Brenda Testani-Nedbalski.
But that didn’t stop her.
“Every day I set a goal and I achieve it,” said Testani-Nedbalski.
And Testani-Nedbalski isn't alone. According to the American Stroke Association, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds nationwide.
"It’s really important we talk to people and work with survivors to educate everyone on the warn signs and risk factors,” said Gina Chapman, American Heart Association Corporate Events Director.
Studies say for the first time in 50 years, stroke has dropped from the third to the fourth leading cause of death nationwide. Yet it remains a leading cause of long-term disability and Testani-Nedbalski says recovery isn’t easy.
“I had to learn to walk, write, read, spell and all those things,” said Testani-Nedbalski.
Experts say anyone can have a stroke.
“Stroke does not discriminate among any ages, ethnicity or sex at all,” said Chapman.
Although a stroke can happen at any time, there are some things you can do to help offset the odds.
“Being aware of what your blood pressure is, is very important, because it’s something that can be controlled, but if you’re not aware of what your numbers are, it can be very problematic,” said Pamela Stewart Fahs, RN, DSN, BU Professor of Nursing.
Health officials say if you think you’re having symptoms of a stroke or see someone else who may be having a stroke, the best thing to do is call 911.
"Most people can remember the acronym FAST. Facial drooping, arm drift, if you can't hold both arms up at the same time, problems with speech, you can't speak properly, then it’s time to call 911,” said Stewart Fahs.
A call that can save your life or someone else’s.
If you’ve had a stroke and are looking for a local support group, just head to www.strokeassociation.org.
The Stroke Support Group of Broome County meets every fourth Tuesday from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Vestal Public Library.