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Notice to Readers: National Stroke Awareness Month, May 2002

May is National Stroke Awareness Month in the United States. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability. During 2002, approximately 500,000 persons in the United States will have a first-time stroke, and an additional 100,000 will have a recurrent attack (1).

New developments in treatment of ischemic stroke have shown that thrombolytic medications might make the difference between disability and full recovery (2), but thrombolytic treatment is effective only if given within 3 hours of onset of symptoms. Among persons who died of stroke in 1999, 48% of deaths occurred before transport to a hospital or emergency department. Recognizing stroke symptoms and seeking prompt emergency assistance can help reduce stroke death and disability.

During May, several CDC-sponsored Cardiovascular Health State Programs, the National Stroke Association, the American Stroke Association, and other federal agencies will highlight programs and activities about prevention and awareness of stroke and its risk factors. For example, the Cardiovascular Health State Program in several states will be collaborating with the American Stroke Association to implement "Operation Stroke," an initiative to increase public awareness of stroke symptoms and the need to call 911 and to improve emergency and medical care for stroke.

Additional information about stroke, warning signs, risk factors, prevention, treatment, and new research is available from CDC at, from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at, from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at, from the American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association at and, from the Brain Attack Coalition at, and from the National Stroke Association at


  1. American Heart Association. 2002 Heart and stroke statistical update. Dallas, Texas: American Heart Association, 2001. Available at
  2. Adams HP, Brott TJ. Furlan AJ, et al. Guidelines for thrombolytic therapy for acute stroke: a supplement to the guidelines for the management of patients with acute ischemic stoke. American Heart Association/Medical Scientific Statement. Stroke 1996;27:1711--8.

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Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
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This page last reviewed 5/23/2002