World Stroke Day
When is World Stroke Day?
World Stroke Day is observed annually on October 29th to raise awareness about stroke. This health crisis is a worldwide problem that affects people of all ages. The World Stroke Organization (WSO) established this holiday to help raise awareness of risk factors and preventive measures to decrease global stroke incidents.
A stroke is a serious health condition that occurs when blood flow ceases in a portion of the brain. The body relies on constant blood flow for the transport of nutrients and oxygen. When the brain doesn’t get enough blood, oxygen reception stops. Permanent brain damage can happen because cells die when they don’t get enough blood oxygen, and the condition can even cause death. Stroke survivors may suffer from permanent impairments, including memory loss, paralysis, depression and loss of motor skills.
The American Heart Association reports that the stroke death rate in the United States decreased 37 percent between 1999 and 2009. Such changes reveal an efficacy in treatment measures, as well as an awareness of early stroke symptoms. Despite these improvements, strokes still contribute to cardiovascular disease and are a major cause of disability among Americans. While strokes can sometimes run in families, lifestyle factors play a large role. Smoking, unhealthy weight, high blood pressure and a lack of physical activity are some of the leading risk factors for stroke.
Despite gains in medical treatment, stroke poses a great threat worldwide. In fact, the WSO estimates that one in six people globally will have at least one stroke at some point during their lifetime. Increasing awareness for risk factors and better medical care can help reduce this statistic.
History of World Stroke Day
World Stroke Day was established by the WSO in 2004, but it didn’t become an annual holiday until 2006. Since then, it has been observed every year on October 29th. The holiday also marked the merging of the World Stroke Federation and the International Stroke Society to combine into the World Stroke Organization.
Organizers for World Stroke Day hope that this holiday increases awareness for stroke warning signs, as well as preventable risk factors. A major focus is high blood pressure, which is considered the leading cause of stroke worldwide. Since strokes are a year-round health concern, the WSO aims to create themes that will stick in your mind every day. Some past themes include: “Because I Care” and “Little Strokes, Big Trouble.”
Observations and Celebrations
World Stroke Day is not a public holiday, which means that government offices remain open. The primary focus of this day is education. Controlling risk factors early in life can help prevent strokes. If patients already have cardiovascular-related health conditions, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, then education about signs of stroke is crucial. Since a stroke can quickly become debilitating, it’s important that family members and friends know the warning signs, too. Early treatment can help save lives even after strokes occur.
Certain celebrations also occur on World Stroke Day. Award ceremonies are held for scientists who make ground-breaking discoveries in stroke research, as well as for medical personnel who save lives. For victims of stroke, World Stroke Day is a cause for celebrating life and survival.