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National Stroke Awareness Month – May 2023

National Stroke Awareness Month is observed in the United States every year during May. This month aims to create public awareness about stroke risk factors and to lessen the occurrence of stroke in the U.S. A stroke is a medical condition where poor blood flow to the brain results in cell death. There are two main types of stroke — ischemic stroke, which occurs due to lack of blood flow, and hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs due to bleeding. Both conditions cause parts of the brain to stop functioning properly. A stroke happens in America every 40 seconds, and someone dies of it every four minutes.

History of National Stroke Awareness Month

Strokes have been reported as far back as 2000 B.C. in ancient Mesopotamia and Persia. It was first described by Hippocrates as he discovered the phenomenon of sudden paralysis that is often associated with ischemia. He called the condition ‘apoplexy,’ which is Greek for ‘struck down with violence.’ In 1599, the word stroke was used as a synonym for apoplectic seizure and is a fairly literal translation of the Greek term.

In 1658, Johann Jacob Wepfer identified the cause of hemorrhagic stroke when he suggested that people who had died of apoplexy had bleeding in their brains. He also identified the main arteries supplying the brain – the vertebral and carotid arteries – and identified the cause of a type of ischemic stroke known as a cerebral infarction when he suggested that a blockage to those vessels might cause apoplexy. Rudolf Virchow first described the mechanism of thromboembolism in 1856 as a major factor in inducing stroke. Thromboembolism is a condition when a blood clot that forms in a blood vessel breaks loose, is carried by the bloodstream, and blocks another blood vessel. This can affect multiple organs, causing organ damage and even death.

The term “brain attack” was introduced to underline the acute nature of stroke according to the American Stroke Association, and the term has been used since 1990. It is used colloquially to refer to both ischemic as well as hemorrhagic strokes. Annually, more than 795,000 people in America have a stroke. Of this number, approximately 610,000 are people having their first stroke.

National Stroke Awareness Month timeline

2000 B.C.
Strokes are Reported

Strokes are reported in Mesopotamia and Persia.

1599
Apoplectic Seizure

The word ‘stroke’ is used as a synonym for apoplectic seizure.

1658
Hemorrhagic Stroke Discovery

Johann Jacob Wepfer identifies the cause of a hemorrhagic stroke as he suggests that people who die of apoplexy have bleeding in their brains.

1856
Thromboembolism is Linked to Strokes

Rudolf Virchow first describes the mechanism of thromboembolism as a major factor in inducing stroke.

1990
​​The Term “Brain Attack” is Used

​​The American Stroke Association uses the term to underline the acute nature of strokes.

National Stroke Awareness Month FAQs

What month is National Stroke Awareness Month?

It is celebrated annually in May.

What color ribbon is worn for stroke awareness?

A purple ribbon is worn to symbolize stroke awareness.

What foods can trigger a stroke?

Foods high in saturated fats, trans fat, cholesterol, and salt can raise blood pressure levels and therefore lead to stroke.

How to Observe National Stroke Awareness Month

  1. Go for a checkup

    Go for a checkup as the brain is a very important part of the body that controls most functions. It should be taken care of by going for checkups to make sure it is in a healthy state.

  2. Donate to a charity

    Donate to a charity that helps people with stroke. This helps to relieve more people with the condition.

  3. Spread awareness

    Spread awareness about stroke, its dangers, and how to prevent it. You would be doing society a huge favor by doing this.

5 Ways To Prevent A Stroke

  1. Lower your blood pressure

    A leading cause of stroke is high blood pressure, so by lowering it, you could reduce your chances.

  2. Stop smoking

    Smoking doubles the risk of a stroke as nicotine in cigarettes raises blood pressure, and carbon monoxide in smoke lowers the amount of oxygen your blood can carry.

  3. Reduce your alcohol intake

    Too much alcohol raises your blood pressure as well as your triglycerides and can lead to stroke.

  4. Exercise

    Not exercising can lead to obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure, which is a recipe for stroke.

  5. Eat healthy

    Eat lots of healthy foods such as fruit and veggies, and cut down on foods high in saturated fats and salt as they can clog your arteries.

Why National Stroke Awareness Month is Important

  1. It saves lives

    Helping people know more about what a stroke is and how it can affect their lives can lead to people taking better care of themselves. This would reduce the number of hospital visits due to strokes.

  2. It helps the economy

    With so many people visiting the hospital as a result of having a stroke comes the need for proper resources to treat them. If people are better sensitized, those resources would be saved up for other uses.

  3. It encourages healthy living

    Apart from encouraging people to live a life that would help them lower the risk of a stroke, it also encourages healthy living in other ways such as eating healthy food and exercising.

National Stroke Awareness Month dates

YearDateDay
2023May 1Monday
2024May 1Wednesday
2025May 1Thursday
2026May 1Friday
2027May 1Saturday
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