Medical Minute: Strokes affecting larger number of young people

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MINOT, N.D. - The Centers for Disease control says that every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke.

Doctors at Trinity hospital say they are seeing an increase in the number of strokes and younger stroke patients.

When a stroke happens, time is the most important factor, especially the first four hours.

"We have a very short window time to treat a stroke patient, and so we need them to call 911, get to the hospital as soon as possible," said Jerilyn Alexander, Trinity stroke coordinator.

Other factors to look for are broken down in the acronym "FAST."

F for Face drooping.
A for arm weakness.
S for slurred speech
T for time.

The American stroke association says 80 percent of strokes are preventable.

While risk factors include poor diet and family history, the most controllable risk factor is high blood pressure.

And the age of those having strokes patients is now lower than it used to be.

"When I first started this job in 2011 I believe our average age was about 72 and we're now down to 69," says Alexander.

Eating healthy and being active is important. Jerry Sennett says he tried to stay active, even in his golden years.

"During the summer I was building a shed, so I was quite busy," said Jerry Sennett, stroke survivor.

But, last year he suffered a stroke.

Thanks to his wife remembering FAST, he was able to get to the hospital and receive the needed medication within the four hour window.

"I was very fortunate," said Sennett.

Sennett's arm was paralyzed during his stroke, but a year later, some function has returned.

Some people aren't as lucky, and it can take a toll on both the patient and their families.

Trinity patients say support after a stroke, whether physical or mental is extremely helpful. Trinity offers a support group where survivors, like Jerry, and their families can share their stories as well as tips on life after stroke.

"It's good for me to hear what other people do," said Sennett.

"They come back and they say, 'oh I just miss being here', I just think it's a great thing for our community," said Alexander.

Trinity's stroke support group works to educate and hopefully save lives.

The stroke support group meets every third Wednesday of the month at seven pm at Trinity Riverside. If you'd like you find out more information about stroke awareness or the support group you can visit the Trinity website.