Since 1989, the month of May is designated as American Stroke Month. Throughout the month, communities and organizations strive to increase awareness and education of the types, prevention methods, warning signs, effects or risks, and treatments of strokes. The American Heart Association (AHA) and American Stroke Association (ASA) work diligently to bring attention to this preventable medical condition that affects millions of Americans annually.

A stroke occurs when blood is unable to flow properly within the brain. When this occurs, brain cells are unable to receive oxygen and begin to die. There are three types of strokes. The most common form is ischemic strokes, accounting for 87% of all stroke cases. This type of stroke occurs due to an obstruction, like a clot, within a blood vessel in the brain. A transient ischemic attack, also known as a “mini” or “warning” stroke, is caused by a temporary obstruction within a blood vessel. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a weakened blood vessel in the brain ruptures. You can find more information on each type of stroke at Types of Strokes.

Recognizing the warning signs of someone having a stroke can significantly reduce the effects or save the individual’s life. The AHA/ASA created an easy-to-remember method to identity warning signs. If you believe someone is having a stroke, remember F.A.S.T.: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911. It is important to get the individual medical help as fast as possible. The AHA/ASA note that it is helpful to inform the medical staff of when the symptoms first appeared. To learn more about F.A.S.T., visit American Stroke Association.

The effects of a stroke depend on the area of the brain that was not getting blood and the amount of time the blood flow was hindered. If the back of the brain is affected, the stroke will negatively affect the person’s vision. If the right side of the brain is affected, the left side of the body will experience paralysis. Other functions that are affected include the individual’s ability to see and/or result in a quick, inquisitive behavioral style. If the left side of the brain is affected, then the right side of the body may experience paralysis. The person may experience problems in their ability to communicate or speak and/or result in a slow, cautious behavioral style. Memory loss can occur in stroke cases, as well. You can find more information on the effects of a stroke on a brain at American Stroke Association – About the Brain.

Strokes used to be the fourth leading cause of death, but is now ranked fifth! According to the AHA/ASA, the higher survival rates are a result of advances in medical treatments for strokes. The ability to get an individual the right care quickly can save their life and quality of life. The types of treatments available depend on the type of stroke. In the event of a ischemic stroke, the treatment goal is to bust or remove the clot. For a hemorrhagic stroke, the treatment goal is to stop the bleeding within the brain. More information on how these goals are met can be found at Stroke Treatment.

According to the National Stroke Association, up to 80% of strokes are preventable. Knowing the risk factors for stroke is the first step in preventing a stroke. The leading risk factor that causes strokes is high blood pressure. High cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, excess alcohol consumption, and tobacco use are also significant risk factors that lead to strokes. Each of these risk factors are reversible through proper nutrition and exercise. You can find helpful tips on how to decrease your risk of having a stroke at Brain Health.

Spreading awareness and educating communities of strokes will help to reduce the amount of lives claimed by this preventable medical condition. The AHA/ASA created the Together or End Stroke initiative. You can find helpful resources and tips on how to educate and spread awareness of strokes within your community by visiting Stroke Treatment.

We are in the final month of the 86th Legislative Session. Sine Die, the final day, of this Session is May 27th. Until then, the Legislature will continue to hold hearings over bills in committees and decide matters in the House and Senate Chambers. To look up and/or track legislation that interests you, please visit Texas Legislature Online. You are able to look up legislation by word, phrase, or bill number in the top-middle section of this page. The left of the page has several links that will connect you to the the Texas House of Representatives homepage and to the Texas Senate homepage.

To receive alerts of bills that interest you, please visit Texas Legislature Online My TLO Login . You can create a free account by clicking on “New User” underneath the password box. Once you’ve created your login, you will see a line full of empty boxes. Under “bill”, you type in the bill number and leave the next box as “any category”. This will send you alerts each time the bill moves through the legislative process. You can also add notes. Finally, select “Add Bill”.

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week’s article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part). He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672