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April 4, 2014

Deaths due to stroke have dropped significantly in the past 10 years, from 12. 2 percent of those hospitalized in 2002 to 7.7 percent in 2012. And while that’s generally good news, there were 1,100 deaths due to stroke while hospitalized. Strokes are the fourth leading cause of death in the state and remain the number one cause of disability.

How fast someone gets to the hospital after stroke symptoms generally determines how much damage will occur to a stroke victim, according to state Health Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd . Fewer than 50 percent of stroke victims arrive at emergency rooms by calling 911 -- most use private transportation, which is considered much too high.

The age of stroke victims is also changing. While 70 percent are 65 years or older, hospitals are seeing more victims between the ages of 40 and 65.

Symptoms of stroke include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg -- especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; or a sudden severe headache with no known cause.

People may also use the "FAST" test to recognize if a person is suffering from a stroke:

F = FACE, ask the person to smile.

A = ARMS, ask the person to raise both arms.

S = SPEECH, ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.

T = TIME, If you observe any of these signs (independently or together), call 9-1-1 immediately.

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