Regarded as the fifth leading cause of death and severe disability in the United States, stroke is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the blood supply to one part of the brain is partially cut off. According to reports from the American Stroke Association (ASA), more than 795,000 US people suffer a stroke (2018 statistics). In fact, about 40 percent Americans who die from stroke are males, with 60 percent of deaths occurring in females. Incorporating healthy lifestyle changes combined with medications can help control the risk of stroke to a great extent. With an objective to generate widespread awareness about stroke and its related risk factors, the month of May is officially recognized as “National Stroke Awareness Month” in the United States. Sponsored by the National Stroke Association (NSA), the campaign acts as a unique platform for people to have a better understanding of stroke and to save a life by knowing what signs and symptoms to look for. Neurologists, neuro-radiologists, neurosurgeons and other specialists who provide treatment for different types of stroke need to correctly document the same in the patient’s medical records. Opting for medical billing and coding services from a reliable medical billing company can help simplify the documentation process.

The 2020 month-long campaign aims to provide everyone with essential tools and resources to help build more awareness about this condition through a series of events and activities. Also known as cerebrovascular accident or CVA, stroke is a medical emergency and need to be diagnosed and treated quickly as possible to minimize the chances of brain damage and other related complications. Blockages in the artery and leaking or bursting of blood vessels are the two main causes of stroke. The chances of stroke are higher for people who are overweight, who have an inactive lifestyle, family history of stroke, people who are above 55 years, and people with a high tendency of smoking, drinking and using illicit drugs. Medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, cholesterol and cardiovascular disease can also increase the risk of stroke.

Identifying the signs and symptoms of stroke early is the initial step to ensure that the medical help is received immediately. Reports suggest that each minute a stroke goes untreated, the blood flow to the brain continues to be blocked and a person loses about 1.9 neurons. This in turn can affect one’s ability to memorize, speak, move and respond to different situations. Therefore, timely recognition of symptoms helps in better disease management. Common symptoms associated with stroke include – trouble with speaking and understanding, paralysis or numbness of the face, arm or leg (particularly on one side of the body), headache, problem with walking (including dizziness and lack of co-ordination) and vision problems in one or both eyes. In addition to these problems, people may also experience other symptoms like – bladder or bowel control problems, depression, paralysis or weakness on one or both sides of the body, trouble controlling or expressing emotions and pain in the hands and feet (that gets worse with movement and temperature changes).

The month-long event sponsored by the NSA aims to reduce the impact and incidence of stroke and provide essential support focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and support for all impacted by stroke. Initial diagnosis of the condition may begin with physicians evaluating the type of stroke and the areas of brain affected by the same. Imaging tests like computerized tomography (CT) scan, carotid ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), cerebral angiogram, echocardiogram; and blood tests are performed to identify the exact causes of this disease. Treatment options for stroke include – over-the counter medications and surgical procedures to remove blood clots. Common surgical procedures include – Carotid endarterectomy, Angioplasty and stents, Coiling (endovascular embolization), surgical clipping and surgical AVM removal. The diagnosis tests and procedures must be carefully documented using the correct medical codes. Medical billing and coding companies can assist physicians with their medical coding and claims submission. In ICD-10-CM, code I60 and its complete sub-categories offer more specific representation of the location or source of the hemorrhage –

  • I60 – Non-traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • I61 – Non-traumatic intracerebral hemorrhage
  • I62 – Other and unspecified non-traumatic intracranial hemorrhage
  • I63 – Cerebral infarction
  • I65 – Occlusion and stenosis of precerebral arteries, not resulting in cerebral infarction
  • I66 – Occlusion and stenosis of cerebral arteries, not resulting in cerebral infarction
  • I67 – Other cerebrovascular diseases
  • I68 – Cerebrovascular disorders in diseases classified elsewhere
  • I69 – Sequelae of cerebrovascular disease

The month of May was officially designated as “National Stroke Awareness Month” on May 11, 1989 by President George. H.W Bush signing the Presidential Proclamation 5975. Since then, the National Stroke Association (NSA) has been celebrating this annual event to raise public awareness about stroke and enhance the quality of life for all people coping with the sudden and long-term effects of this serious condition.

The main goal behind this campaign is to provide everyone with the essential tools and resources to help generate more awareness about this debilitating condition through a series of events and activities. The program places emphasis on making the public aware about “Acting FAST.” According to the NSA, about 80% of this disease can be treated or prevented if people act fast. F.A.S.T is an acronym developed by the NSA to help victims and bystanders quickly recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke.

  • F – Face / Does the face droop on one side when the person smiles?
  • A – Arm / After raising both arms, does one of the arms drift downwards?
  • S – Speech /After repeating a simple phrase, does the person’s speech sound slurred or strange?
  • T – Time / If any or all of the above signs are observed, call 911 if in the US, or 999 in the UK and ask for medical assistance.

The main goal is to influence people to learn the F.A.S.T signs and share them with as many people as possible as this will definitely help reduce the risk of stroke. As part of the month-long observance, a wide range of events and activities are organized worldwide to generate awareness about the importance of diagnosing the symptoms of stroke at an early stage. Infographics and testimonials are shared across several social media platforms regarding this event. People share and post hash tags like #StrokeAwarenessMonth via Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.

Take part in National Stroke Awareness Month Observance This May! Make use of this campaign to know more about the symptoms of stroke, and ways to prevent it.