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Strokes are country’s fourth-leading cause of death

Strokes, new and recurrent, occur nearly 795,000 times each year in the United States, according to Dr. Dion Graybeal, medical director of the Stroke Program at Baylor Medical Center.

In an interview with KERA, a National Public Radio affiliate station in Dallas, Graybeal said stroke is the fourth-leading cause of death in the country behind heart disease, chronic lung disease and cancer.

The good news is that new medications, which can disrupt the blood clots that lead to strokes, are available to physicians.

The crucial element for saving stroke patients is to summon help immediately and get them treatment within three hours – or ideally within one hour. So what are the symptoms of a stroke? Graybeal said they include:

  • Weakness or numbness involving the face or arm or leg
  • Difficulty with speaking or confusion
  • Difficulty understanding or expressing language
  • A lack of balance or gait, walking difficulty
  • A loss of vision that can occur in one or both eyes
  • The sudden onset of a very severe or explosive headache

Graybeal said the most common type of stroke occurs when an obstruction such as a blood clot causes an interruption of blood flow to the brain.

The Mayo Clinic identifies a number of risk factors for blood clots, including a history of stroke, prolonged sitting or bed rest, surgery, and pregnancy.

According to the Mayo Clinic, use of oral contraceptives is also a risk factor for developing blood clots.

But while most birth control pills increase the risk of blood clots, some carry a demonstrably higher risk. Several studies show that Beyaz, Yaz, Yasmin, Ocella and other contraceptives that contain the synthetic hormone drospirenone increase the risk of potentially fatal blood clots more than other types of birth control pills on the market.

See the KERA report here: