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National Stroke Awareness Month --- May 2004

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. During 2004, an estimated 700,000 persons in the United States will have a stroke; of these, approximately 160,000 (23%) will die. Nearly half of stroke deaths will occur before patients are transported to hospitals, and 15%--30% of stroke survivors will be disabled permanently (1).

Recognition of the warning signs for stroke and immediate calls for emergency medical care are critical first steps toward obtaining appropriate emergency treatment that might prevent death and disability. The five major warning signs of stroke are 1) sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; 2) sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body; 3) sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; 4) sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination; and 5) sudden, severe headache with no known cause (1). In 2001, only 17% of adults recognized all five major signs of stroke and also knew to call 911 for medical assistance. Education campaigns are needed to increase public awareness of the early signs of stroke.

CDC supports programs that emphasize multiple strategies for targeting stroke prevention and for ensuring patients receive quality care. In 2004, CDC also will support stroke-care registries in several states to monitor and enhance improvements in the quality of care for stroke.

Additional information about stroke prevention and the national stroke registry is available at Information about stroke is available at,, and


  1. American Heart Association. Heart disease and stroke statistics---2004 update. Dallas, Texas: American Heart Association, 2003. Available at

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Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
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