Press Release

April 30, 2008


State health director encourages people to remember the “3 R's” during National Stroke Awareness Month

  Approximately 6,000 people in Illinois die each year of stroke

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Dr. Damon T. Arnold, state public health director, today encouraged everyone to follow the “3 R's”– reduce risk, recognize symptoms and respond immediately – to help curtail the number of Illinoisans who die or are disabled each year by a stroke. In 2005, the most recent year for complete statistics, 6,232 people, or six percent of all deaths in the state, were from stroke, making it the third leading cause of death.

“The effects of a stroke can be permanent unless treated quickly, because dead brain cells cannot be replaced. Doctors have found that if you get treatment within 60 minutes of symptoms beginning, there is a better chance of getting the blood moving to the brain and less chance of damage,” said Dr. Arnold.

A stroke, sometimes called a “brain attack,” occurs when the blood flow to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs, so it dies, affecting the functions controlled by that part of the brain. For example, you could lose the use of an arm or leg, or the ability to speak.

Up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable through making better lifestyle changes, according to the National Stroke Association. In addition, for those who are suffering a stroke, it is important for people to recognize the symptoms and act quickly to get the person immediate medical care.

The association has a national campaign to educate the public about the warning signs of a stroke that calls for observing F.A.S.T., which stands for:

F = Face - ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A = Arm - Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S = Speech - Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?

T = Time - If you observe any of these signs, it's time to call 911.

There are some perceptions about having a stroke that are incorrect and need to be replaced with fact.





Stroke is not preventable.


Stroke is largely preventable.

Stroke cannot be treated.


Stroke requires emergency treatment.

Stroke only strikes the elderly.


Stroke can happen to anyone.

Stroke happens to the heart.


Stroke is a "brain attack."


Stroke Awareness Month

WHEREAS, stroke is the third leading cause of death in the Illinois and the United States, claiming the lives of more than 6,000 in the state each year and 750,000 nationwide, and stroke is a leading cause of adult disability; and

WHEREAS, the majority of the public are not aware of their risk factors for a stroke, nor are they aware of the signs and symptoms of a stroke; and

WHEREAS, risk factors for a stroke are high blood pressure, undesirable levels of blood cholesterol, cigarette smoking, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, p hysical inactivity, obesity, and a previous stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) ; and

WHEREAS, 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; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; and sudden severe headache with no known cause; and

WHEREAS, every minute counts in recognizing the symptoms of a stroke and the need to call 911; and

WHEREAS, new and effective treatments have been developed to treat and minimize the severity and damaging effects of strokes, but much more research is needed; and

WHEREAS, acknowledging May 2008 offers advocates for stroke awareness an opportunity to educate the public and policymakers about the devastating effects of stroke;

NOW THEREFORE, I, Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor of the State of Illinois , proclaim MAY 2008 as STROKE AWARENESS MONTH in Illinois , and urge all citizens to familiarize themselves with the signs, symptoms and risk factors associated with stroke and the urgent need to call 911.

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Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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