According to U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, African Americans are twice as likely to suffer a stroke than whites, making them more susceptible to stroke than any other ethnic group. Satcher spoke out on this health disparity during a stroke-screening event in Rockville, Md., called “Stroke Sunday.”

“Strokes have a disproportionate impact among African Americans, but there is something we can do as a community to combat this disease,” states Satcher, who is African American. “We can reduce our risk of stroke by lowering blood pressure, quitting smoking and keeping heart disease and diabetes in check.”

Satcher stressed the importance of African Americans learning the five warning signs of stroke. These signs, as outlined by the American Stroke Association (ASA), are:

1. Numbness or weakness of the arm, face or one side of the body.
2. A severe headache that seems to have no cause.
3. Trouble seeing out of one or both eyes.
4. Loss of balance, dizziness or trouble walking.
5. Confusion and difficulty speaking.

The ASA adds that these symptoms can occur suddenly and reacting to them quickly can make a huge difference in reducing the damaging effects of a stroke.

“A stroke is a medical emergency where every minute counts,” explains Dr. Audrey Penn, deputy director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. “Immediate treatment can protect the brain from damage caused by reduced blood flow and enhance chances for a successful recovery.”

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